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Company confiscates mobile phones of employees at work.

Abu Dhabi Want to make a personal call while at work? Forget it if you are working at Haward Publications based in Abu Dhabi.

The company that deals with online distribution of engineering and technical books, has a policy of keeping the personal mobile phones of their employees under lock and key during office hours.

Staff at Haward who spoke with XPRESS said they are angry and frustrated with their company's selfish policy.

"This is crazy and inhuman. My mobile is mine and I have every right to keep it with me and use it with discretion while at work. We are not slaves," said an angry employee of Haward.

When contacted, the company denied an official response to the paper. But a senior management official told the reporter that the company does not want its employees to waste time. "Is it right for them to make personal calls when they are expected to work? We can make our own policies and we do not want anyone to interfere in our company affairs," said the official.

However, frustrated employees said their personal rights are being infringed. "It is a given that we are here to work and not waste time. But that does not mean that we cannot take or make a personal calls when it is really important," said an employee who spoke on condition of anonymity.

He said the management has forced all employees to sign an undertaking that makes them comply to "all rules, policies and regulations as stated in the company's handbook."

"But there was no special mention about the mobile anywhere on the guidebook, and it was a shock when they told us verbally that we cannot take our phones to our desk," said the employee.

The names of employees have been kept confidential to protect their identity.

Newman Ponniah, a senior HR specialist in the UAE said companies can draw up policies encouraging responsible use of cell phones at workplace as per the best policies in HR.

Legal experts said companies have no right to deny access to mobile phones to their employees unless for security reasons.

"Mobile phone is a personal possession of a person and companies have no right to confiscate it during work hours. Such an action infringes the rights of employees," said Soud. S a legal expert based in Abu Dhabi.

According to her, some companies can deny access to mobile phones as an exception if it concerns the security of the place or of employees. "In normal work atmosphere, employers can only instruct their workforce not to waste time on personal calls and keep a watch on them but cannot invade on their privacy," she added.

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Publication:XPRESS (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:May 16, 2013
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