Don't write a requiem for BYOD just yet

While some headline writers have had fun with the recent California Appeals Court decision about employer phone call reimbursement ("Could Ruling Bring Down BYOD"), an analysis of the court's decision suggests a much more limited impact on BYOD.

Last week, a California Appeals Court ruled that employers must reimburse employees for personal mobile phone call charges related to work.

The court ruled that reimbursement must be a "reasonable percentage" of the employee's overall phone bill. "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."

While the court's ruling is one of the first legal decisions on BYOD, it will be limited in its impact, even if it survives further appeals. First, the decision only affects California employers, so its national significance remains to be seen.

Second, the ruling only pertains to cell phone calls, not data use, which tends to be the most expensive item on a cell phone bill. Third, many employers already reimburse employees for personal cell phone use related to work. So the ruling would be a matter of ensuring that the reimbursement is "reasonable."

The National Law Review advises companies to review their BYOD policies to ensure that if the ruling takes effect, they are ready to comply. The ruling is subject to further appeals and does not become final for 30 days.

For more:
- see the court's ruling
- read the National Law Review article
- check out the CIO article

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