The bring your own device (BYOD) trend has been hailed as a major productivity and morale booster and decried as a tremendous security risk. But a recent court ruling in California could make BYOD irrelevant in that state, and companies located in California or with major presences in that state are closely watching to see what the fallout from the ruling will be.
Essentially, the court said that California businesses whose employees use personal mobile phones for business should reimburse employees for a portion of the cost of their personal mobile phone bill if they use it for work calls, even if the employee has an unlimited talk plan. Everyone’s waiting to see how this will affect BYOD in particular and IT service management in general.
Figuring out exactly how to compensate employees could be far from simple.
What the Ruling Says
The court ruling says, “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 ruling went into effect in September, but the effects may be felt for far longer, and well beyond the California state line. CIOs are having to make changes to BYOD programs or scrap them altogether, something that could profoundly affect IT service management. If BYOD is scrapped, IT asset management could ultimately be simpler (after personal devices are replaced by corporate-owned ones), but upheaval is all but certain.
Unknowns that IT Service Management Will Have to Address
If the California ruling gets class action, it could end up compelling companies to reimburse former employees, who could come back and say that they quit their job because of the company’s BYOD policy. Many companies with BYOD policies already compensate employees for use of their personal devices on the job, through expense reimbursement or a payroll stipend, but that may not be enough. The court ruled that “reasonable” compensation must be made, but did not provide hard figures for that. Should the court come out with a percentage of the employee’s bill that the employer must pay, someone with an expensive plan could get further reimbursement.
What About Data and Other “Non-Minute” Charges?
The court ruling only covers talk minutes on employee-owned devices, but many people worry that it could open the door to rulings on data usage, device storage, personal apps used for business, or even home Wi-Fi. Again, there are many unknowns. Just about everyone, for example, has broadband at home for personal use, but if they use it to access the corporate network, should they be compensated for their time and the cost of using their home network for work functions?
Should Other States Be Concerned?
Other states have similar language to California’s in their labor laws, so the California ruling could have an effect elsewhere. Other BYOD-related rulings could chill enthusiasm for BYOD. For example, in a search and seizure situation of a personal phone that has non-partitioned company data on it, authorities cannot “crack open” the device anymore based on previous court rulings. Could an employee wanting to hide evidence on his phone call up the corporate MDM provider, report the device lost, and ask it to be wiped in an attempt to wipe out evidence? If a device isn’t wiped and company information is leaked, what are the implications for the company? Suffice it to say that other states are watching California closely.
How IT Service Management Could Be Affected
If companies start cancelling BYOD, disruption in IT service management is to be expected as personal devices are replaced by corporate-owned devices. IT asset management would have to be purged of BYOD devices that are no longer being used for work, and any corporate replacement devices would have to be taken into the IT asset management system. The result could be a slowdown of IT service management during the transition. Ultimately, however, security concerns could diminish, since security is one of the biggest risks that comes along with a BYOD policy.
The recent California court ruling could lead to people carrying two devices – one corporate and one personal – once again. This could ultimately make IT asset management, MDM, and IT service management a bit simpler, but transitioning from a BYOD environment to a non-BYOD environment could mean upheaval.