Rochester Business Journal–Managers at Work
Q. “In a cost-cutting move, senior management says we will no longer be able to provide cellphones to our employees. From now on, my team will be expected to provide their own phone for work purposes. Is this legal? And is it fair to employees who are using their own phones all the time for work? And what about privacy, like the app that companies can use to wipe phones clean-when someone leaves? Please advise.”
A. Whether people like it or not, the requirement is firmly in place–Employers expect employees to be available remotely.
Indeed, a survey of 500 senior executives last year by Oxford Economics, commissioned by Samsung Electronics America, confirmed what we all know, that “‘modern work is mobile work.” Nearly 80 percent of survey respondents said employees cannot do their jobs effectively without a mobile phone.
While the expectation is not new, there are lots of questions around who pays for these phones and the use of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies in the workplace.
Only about 50 percent of organizations use “Employer Provided Device” (EPD) programs for their employees, according to the Oxford survey. The remainder rely on BYOD policies and providing reimbursements or stipends to employees for using their own phones. Roughly half of the companies with BYOD policies provide a stipend or partial payment to employees and that percentage grew from 40 percent to 53 percent over the last two years, according to the survey. Stipends range from $30 to $50 per month.
While this new requirement to pay for your own phone at work might feel wrong in some way, it is not illegal for an employer to require that personal cellphones be used for work.
“It’s analogous to an employee that has to drive his/her own vehicle to client sites to perform aspects of their job” says Steve Modica, attorney and owner of Modica Law Firm in Rochester. “It may be reasonable for the employee to expect that the employer pay some of the costs to maintain the phone, however, there is no law that compels the employer to do so.”