>>Gimme a break.
actually, I don't entirely disagree with the sentiment. but do note you qualified the statements "on your break"
going back to the OP, and going to my own personal dining experience, someone seating your party, or expected to be "waiting" on your table is not "on a break."
there's "use" and there's "mis-use" of technology.
imagine you're at the dentist getting your teeth cleaned, and then get left with a bunch of glop in your mouth because the dental tech's cell phone rings. is that acceptable? is it unreasonable to expect a waitstaff person to give their contacts the restaurant's phone as an "emergency" contact? how about the dental tech? why should the dental tech be required to list the office as an emergency contact whereas the waitstaff - in addition to paying attention to their _blinking_ job - be entitled to yap on the phone while you're looking for more butter?
back in the day,,,,, I did a _lot_ of business travel. my wife - with three small kids - had a list of all the plant phone numbers, and - being a creature of habit - the hotels where I stayed; domestic and international. and I always used them dang copiers to make sure she had a copy of my itenerary - - all the flights, all the hotels. you know, the old fashioned way . . .
in a restaurant one is paying not only for the food, but the privelege of "being served" the dang food. a watistaff yapping on their cell phone plopping the plate down with not even a break in their conversation is _not_ my concept of "service" - high, medium, or low end eatery.
there is a psuedo-defense for the employee permitted to carry an active cell phone. they cannot control who calls them. I have a cell phone. I get wrong numbers. I get spam "This is your second notification that your car warranty is about to expire." when my waitstaff's attention is diverted from their paying occupation to answer a cell phone, I am _not_ a happy patron.
if they take the call / voice mail on their break, _somebody_ is supposed to be covering their responsibilities and frankly, my dear, when they are on break, I don't give a hoot.
so I am completely in support of Jim's opinion: if you're working, _no_ cell phone, period. on or off. put it in your locker. if you're too stupid to give your next of kin an emergency contact number, you need to look for an occupation that does not require your attention.
and "I can multi-task" is _out_. see automobile drivers and cell phones / texting. or train operators and texting, or trolley operators and cell phones (train wrecks, death toll, etc.) the human brain is still the best multi-tasking computer on the face of this planet - but it is not exempt from attention lapse.
I have personally had to go to the host foh with the request: "Gosh, when the waiter is finished with his texting, could you ask him to bring us xxx" no, it's not a joke, it's not an exaggeration.
once when the tab arrived I wrote down "50% deduction for service staff phone deversion" - adjusted the dollar amount - and proffered cash. the cashier, who was on the phone, didn't even blink. rang it up, gave me my change on the 50% deduction, and I left. wonder how that hit the fan....