California Ruling on Reimbursements to Complicate BYOD

Kachina Shaw
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Seven Steps to Prepare for BYOD

Maintaining the state’s trend of taking a leading position on new technological and legal challenges, a California Court of Appeals ruled earlier this month that within the state,

“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."

And with that, a fresh set of headaches for companies and IT departments managing or allowing employee-owned devices used for work purposes is born.

The National Law Review’s first recommendation as a result of the ruling, which takes effect after 30 days, and could face additional review, is this:

“Employers should review their cell phone policies in light of this new ruling.”

Unfortunately, it is not yet clear exactly what the goals of those policy reviews should be.

While this ruling leaves much unsaid, including any direction on data usage, a certain amount of near-panic for companies with all or a portion of their work force in California seems to be brewing. Tom Kaneshige, writing at CIO.com, notes that some CIOs may move to tighten up BYOD policies and others may decide to avoid the coming new headaches and get rid of BYOD altogether, if that is possible. All of them, it appears, should expect to receive calls from mobile management and expense management solution vendors that are salivating at the idea of helping these companies move into compliance, as far as California law is concerned.


Even those companies that have put in the work to create fully functioning BYOD policies might eventually be starting all over, as other states consider similar cases and examine where the employee’s rights meet the company’s expectations of the “always on” worker. Nancy Gohring at CITEworld says other cases in other states involving telecommunications reimbursements include factors such as exempt vs. non-exempt employees.

This state ruling and each case that follows will add complexity and a management burden to an already fluid but near-essential balance of employer-provided and employee-provided mobile devices. Predictions of the death of BYOD are floating, though it seems that would require prying phones from quite a few cold, dead hands.

Kachina Shaw is managing editor for IT Business Edge and has been writing and editing about IT and the business for 15 years. She writes about IT careers, management, technology trends and managing risk. Follow Kachina on Twitter @Kachina and on Google+

 

 



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