byod-tshirt1

California Court Ruling Could Change BYOD Policies

August 21, 2014 - Written By Cory McNutt

Many of us need to use a phone for our work – remember how you were either ‘issued’ a cheap flip phone for the average worker or a BlackBerry for middle management and up. Well, a funny thing has happened over the past couple of years – flip phones are now thought of as unbearable and BlackBerry is old news…so many workers asked to bring their own high-end device to use at work.  This is known as BYOD – Bring Your Own Device and is becoming very popular in the work environment, in fact, we are so happy about it, we probably never even thought about getting paid or reimbursed for our cell phone bill.

Does your employer offer to reimburse you for a portion of your bill – have you even discussed it with them, or are you just happy to use your own smartphone.  No matter what the answer, the California Court of Appeals ruled late last week that companies MUST reimburse employees for work-related use of their personal cell phone.  This will most likely trickle down to the other states as well…trickle may be the wrong word, maybe more flowing like a downstream river.  Specifically in the California case of Cochran v. Schwan’s Home Service stated:

“We hold that when employees must use their personal cell phones for work-related calls, Labor Code section 2802 requires the employer to reimburse them.  Whether the employees have cell phone plans with unlimited minutes or limited minutes, the reimbursement owed is a reasonable percentage of their cell phone bills.”

The case has already gone through the California Supreme Court and now the Court of Appeal – it has run its course and this decision will go into effect in 30 days.  This could put an end to the BYOD, but it would still be cheaper than giving each employee his or her own device.  Many employers find it cheaper to have employees work from home and pay a small percentage of their Wi-Fi or even a landline phone line.  But a strange thing about the ruling is that it only covers telephone calls, not the larger part of the bill for data used for work related apps – although, that will most likely be included in the near future.

There is room for a lot of arguments in this ruling says Hyoun Park, principal consultant at DataHive Consulting – “The ruling states that this type of thing has to be figured out on an individual basis.  That’s a big, messy cauldron in the making…The court didn’t care about whether you bought 100 megabytes or an unlimited plan.  They’re just saying that the company should pay for a portion of the bill.  So there’s going to be an argument there.”  This could potentially be a another court case just waiting to get started.

Please hit us up on our Google+ Page and let us know how your employer handles your BYOD policy…many vendors look at this as an opportunity to sell devices to businesses, while others will implement a policy to reimburse employees – which decision are you hoping for…as always, we would love to hear from you.