Smart Phones and Workers Comp

Using smart phones, be it for business or for personal use, is something that is seen everywhere.  You can see people using them at various times of the day whether they are alone or with other people.  With such high popularity, people may even be using them when doing so is not appropriate or acceptable (e.g., a funeral).  It raises a question of whether or not the line separating business from pleasure has been blurred.

Since the use of smart phones increases, the work day for some may be changing to more of an “8 to 8” (half a day) schedule as opposed to more of an “8 to 5” schedule.  Other parts of work have accelerated, such as e-mail, but with phones continually becoming more sophisticated in terms of communication, the ability to “reach out and touch some” has become almost instantaneous with phone calls, texts and e-mailing photos and/or videos from the phone.  With the smart phone possibly blurring the line between work and personal time, this could give some the feeling that they are working every waking hour.

It is possible that an employer not discouraging employees from responding to business communications (e.g., voicemail, e-mail, texts) after office hours could create a scenario in which occupationally-related injuries could occur.  With such common use and reliance on communicating via smart phones, people may be in locations during times when an exposure to a workers compensation loss could occur, yet the insurance company is under the assumption that the owner and employees only work during certain or specified hours of the day.  Some employers may have to consider the possibility that the use of smart phones is redefining the workplace and their workers compensation insurance policy may have to be amended.

In past years, insurance companies offering workers compensation were not very eager to insure businesses that were open late at night or 24 hours a day, but that could be the case with more businesses today with the use of smart phones at any time of day while away from the office.

In a recent study conducted by Accenture, 80% of their respondents were in agreement with the statement that “technology plays an important role in achieving work-life balance”.  On the flip side, though, 70% agreed that “technology brings work into their personal lives”.

It may be prudent for an employer to look into his employees’ business use of their smart phones when they are not on the clock.  The exposure to a workers compensation loss may vary depending on the kind of business that is being conducted but changes might need to be made to the workers compensation policy or with regards to when it is or is not acceptable for employees to be using their smart phone for work.  One option that may be available to some employers is to have it set up so that their staff’s smart devices only sync with the office during set times of the day.

Smart phones have somewhat brought about a new way for people to conduct business even if it is after hours or the time and place is inappropriate.  Some employers may have no concerns, but for those that do, each employer may have their own list of concerns regarding employees handling business outside of official business hours.  If you run a business and have any concerns or questions about your staff working during their personal time, please give us a call at 305-270-2100 to speak with one of our commercial underwriters.

At Filer Insurance, Inc., we have been providing Home, Auto and Business Insurance in Miami and South Florida since 1919.  We would very much like to have you as one of our customers.  Please give us call or come by our office for a free quote on your insurance.

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