The proliferation of cell phones, beginning in the 1990s, has led many employer s to lay out policies for under what circumstances an employee can use their phone. For restaurants, the issue requires special attention. Cell phone use among cooking staff can reduce the speed at which food is prepared, while cell phone use among serving staff can interrupt diners. Just as patrons of restaurants are often asked to refrain from cell phone use, so, too, are establishment employees.


Employers will restrict use of cell phones for two main reasons: interference with work and safety. If the use of a cell phone places employees or customers in danger, such as by distracting the cell phone users, employers will generally bar it. In situations in which cell phone use reduces productivity, employers will attempt to strike a balance between allowing employees to attend to personal business and making sure the company functions effectively.

Cell Phone Use For Cooks

Restaurant kitchens are often busy enough that cooks are unable to use their cell phones and attend to their duties without sacrificing speed or quality. For this reason, many restaurants will ban outright the use of cell phones by cooking staff when working. An exception may be made for employees who are not currently in the kitchen, such as those catering or purchasing supplies in another location and who must communicate with the restaurant.

Cell Phone Policy For Serving Staff

Many restaurants, seeking to cultivate a quiet atmosphere for patrons enjoying a meal, will forbid all staff on the floor of a restaurant from speaking on their cell phones. This includes both time on duty and time on break. While some restaurants, particularly noisier ones, are more lenient about this, according to the food website The Restaurant Blogger, cell phone use by staff visible to patrons is still considered a breach of etiquette.


According to the human resources reference website Wyck Wyre, companies should lay out specific disciplinary procedures for infractions involving the unauthorized use of cell phones. Companies should make clear the consequences for unauthorized use ahead of time. Managers of restaurants will take different approaches depending on their management style and the restaurant itself. Those managing higher-end restaurants may make cell phone use a firing offense, while managers of fast-food franchises may mete out less-severe punishment.