California court rules that employers must reimburse all BYOD calls

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In what could be a landmark case regarding the growing practice of Bring-Your-Own-Device, a California Court of Appeals has ruled that employees must be reimbursed by their employer for the use of any personal devices for work-related matters.

The ruling, which was handed down last week, will go into effect in that state in 30 days, notes an article at CIO.

"Its reverberations will no doubt be felt in the weeks to come, as CIOs will have to scurry to make changes to their BYOD programs," the article indicated.

Citing the ruling in the case of Cochran v Schwan's Home Service, the court stated "We hold that when employees must use their personal cellphones for work-related calls, Labor Code section 2802 requires the employer to reimburse them. Whether the employees have cellphone plans with unlimited minutes or limited minutes, the reimbursement owed is a reasonable percentage of their cellphone bills."

The article also explains that that case has already gone through the California Supreme Court and now through the Court of Appeals, so there is nowhere else for the matter to go.

"I think this is going to be a deal killer for a lot of companies, especially those that have a significant California employee base," Hyoun Park, principal consultant at DataHive Consulting, was quoted as saying. "This is the first real ruling that has been binding in the BYOD space."

While the law is clear on the reimbursement responsibilities of employers for employee work-related telephone calls, it is not so clear on data transmissions using personal devices. Still, Park was quoted as saying he believes that distinction will be included in the law eventually as well.

It will be interesting to see how difficult a time employers have calculating "reasonable percentages" of used minutes on an employee-by-employee basis.

It was noted that a flat-fee reimbursement policy will no longer meet the law requirements.

Read more:
- check out the CIO article

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