Have you read the Fine Print of your Company Policies?


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The employer-employee relationship has undergone a sea change since the proliferation of technology. Today, a workplace is not necessarily a physical space, we are not necessarily co-located at the workplace and all our work instruments are not necessarily owned by our organization. The dynamism has necessitated some new and interesting policies to be created. Employees are often not fully aware of some of these rules of engagement. Here are a few examples of lesser known company policies:

BYOD Policies

Bring Your Own Device is a fairly common organizational policy of our times. Employees can use their own devices for work – under some conditions. Here are a few that you must know before signing off:

  1. Many organizations use Mobile Device Management (MDM) tools to monitor compliance real time. These tools can remotely control your device, lock and wipe it of data in case of breach.
  2. Some of the policies direct employees with specific WiFi and HotSpot settings that are permissible on the device
  3. Many BYOD policies call out apps or software that are not allowed on the device, once configured for the org

So, read your BYOD policy well before syncing that office email on your personal device.

Social Media Policies

Many organizations are quickly realizing that access to social media is almost a basic right today. But, the internet is a funny place, and I am sure you appreciate the organization’s need to protect its’ interests. Almost all organizations have a social media policy, read the fine print before logging on to your account. Here are some salient features I have seen in social media policies:

  1. Almost all the policies call out that the employee must post their opinions as their own, and not of the organization.
  2. Ask yourself a thousand times if what you are posting is sensitive or confidential company data. If you have an iota of doubt, don’t post – the disclaimer of personal opinion would be pointless in such cases. Employees have gotten into serious problems by revealing a product release date or an upcoming scheme, for example.
  3. A company may retain the right to take action (including and up to termination) in case you post any dishonorable or objectionable content.
  4. Some social media policies point out that the company can edit, alter or delete any post that employees post referencing the organization.

Intellectual Property (IP) Policies

Most likely, you had been handed out this policy document on your day of joining, with a load of other paperwork. We often sign it blindly, without reading or understanding the fine print. Here are a few call outs from typical IP policies:

  1. Many organizations state that all products or services created by an employee using company devices or during company work hours are the intellectual property of the company
  2. Some product organizations have clear patent policies to help inventors file patents, where they are officially registered as co-owners of the patent along with the company
  3. Some policies require employees to declare any invention that they are planning to patent outside of the organization. The organization retains the right to refuse a competing or related product/service to be patented

Non-Compete Policies

Much like Intellectual Property policies, you usually sign non-competes on day one. And then, conveniently forgot all about it! Here are few things many companies do not want you to do:

  1. Discuss or use any confidential information obtained due to their employment, for a specified after end of service. This includes information like who held what post in the org, the structure, policies or compensation structure of the organization.
  2. Engage in doing the same service with a competitor during (sometimes, even a certain period after) the employment. This policy is almost always skirted by changing the job duties in the next employment, even if to a minor degree.
  3. Solicit customers, or employees of the current organization for a specified period after the employment.

As they rightly say “Read the offer document carefully before signing!”

Do you want to understand any of these policies better or get a clarification? Are there other policies that are common, but little known? Comment or write to us at editor@blankslatechronicles.com

About Anumita Ghosh

Anumita believes her calling has to do with the written words. She loves to write and read, and has recently given up a(n) (almost) rocking career in the Corporate to pursue her passion. Yes, she is slightly off her rocker, but then the society has been largely accepting of her madness. She is the co-founder of Blank Slate Chronicles and a struggling domestic apprentice, not to mention a loving (yet inadequately skilled) mother to a toddler.

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Anumita Ghosh

Anumita believes her calling has to do with the written words. She loves to write and read, and has recently given up a(n) (almost) rocking career in the Corporate to pursue her passion. Yes, she is slightly off her rocker, but then the society has been largely accepting of her madness. She is the co-founder of Blank Slate Chronicles and a struggling domestic apprentice, not to mention a loving (yet inadequately skilled) mother to a toddler.

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