BYOD and Reimbursement Policies
There is a great deal of discussion about the advantages and disadvantages of the policy of allowing employees to use their own mobile devices, primarily smartphones, instead of employer-issued devices that are to be used solely for work purposes. However, while this is an issue that gets the most attention, there are others that are also important.There are human resource issues that arise that need to be considered. An ill-considered policy can create legal liabilities under federal and state laws. The problem we will address today is the issue of reimbursement. Obviously, the first question employees may have when BYOD policies are enacted is “ Who pays for this?” Does the employer gets a free ride while the employee uses the device they bought for themselves? That hardly seems fair. Should the employer pay the full price or pay a portion of the cost? And what about individuals who refuse to provide their own device–how will that be handled? These questions raise human resource issues of whether employees perceive they are treated with fairness and equity; those perceptions can impact productivity and retention. However, reimbursement is not just a question of fairness: there are legal issues involved. For example, California and Massachusetts have laws with specific requirements to reimburse employee’s business-related expenses. Smartphone expenses for work-related uses would clearly fall under the purview of these regulations. BYOD will require that companies get legal advice when determining how much of a device’s up front cost and data plan have to be paid for by the employer. Failure to do so could violate state law and have an impact on employee satisfaction, trust, and retention. Remember, BYOD is more than an IT issue.