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Calif. Court Rules Businesses Must Reimburse Cell Phone Bills

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the ok-but-stop-calling-her-from-work dept.

Communications 161

New submitter dszd0g writes The Court of Appeal of the State of California has ruled in Cochran v. Schwan's Home Service that California businesses must reimburse employees who BYOD for work. "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." Forbes recommends businesses that require cell phone use for employees either provide cell phones to employees or establish forms for reimbursement, and that businesses that do not require cell phones establish a formal policy.

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Salesmen (4, Informative)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 2 months ago | (#47719513)

Not uncommon for a salesman to have two cell phones. One provided by the company, and their personal. Aside from the PITA of packing and charging both devices, it makes since to keep both the phone numbers and billing separate.

Re:Salesmen (0)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 2 months ago | (#47719543)

Also it keeps salesman from walking away with a copy of e-mail and contacts when they're no longer employed. While it's SOP IT policy to perform a remote wipe of the cell phone, it's still comes down to the nasty discussion of "hey assholes, you just erased all the photos of my family and sons birthday party (personal phone)". Yup, you can't just can't remote wipe the e-mail account; it's all or nothing!

Re:Salesmen (5, Insightful)

Vlado (817879) | about 2 months ago | (#47719585)

Couple of problems with your suppositions:
1. What would be a problem in regards of taking a copy of contacts with you, when you leave? Contacts are probably not only on a phone. And what would prevent someone from sending them (one-by-one or a whole address book) to some backup location? Same goes for emails.
I'm not talking about legality of such action. Just the technical possibility.

2. Who says wipe is all-or-nothing? Even on my old Symbian Nokia there was a possibility of wiping just email account and business contact book remotely. I have no clue what you can do on an iDevice, but on Android you can also be selective, if you wish.

For me, having two phones makes sense only for two things:
- Keeping all the expense-related things clearly separated in regards with private/business usage.
- Having the ability to turn off business phone while off the clock and actually have some time off.

Re:Salesmen (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 2 months ago | (#47719653)

Even if there are alternative ways of doing something, that doesn't mean you should just give up on all security completely.

Imagine having to copy two or three at a time of a companies contact list which may be thousands long - thats going to take a while and fewer people are going to bother than if you could just take the entire thing in one go.

Re:Salesmen (1)

eth1 (94901) | about 2 months ago | (#47719971)

For me, having two phones makes sense only for two things:
- Keeping all the expense-related things clearly separated in regards with private/business usage.
- Having the ability to turn off business phone while off the clock and actually have some time off.

I find it's worth carrying two phones solely to avoid having to deal with Byzantine expense reporting systems once a month. :P

Re:Salesmen (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 2 months ago | (#47720003)

1. Most people don't know how to do what you suggest. But yes, simply writing them all down with pin and paper is trivial. The problem with BYOD is that when you collect business contacts on business time, ostensibly is their intellectual property and not yours. Well, at least from the companies perspective and a tenuous argument at that. None the less they will go to great lengths to protect it if given the proper tools. Which brings me to the next item.

2. Microsoft Exchange. I know that it's an all or nothing deal with both iPhone and Android.

Re:Salesmen (3, Informative)

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) | about 2 months ago | (#47720009)

I work for a Fortune 500 company. Our policy is that staff who need to be reachable/available outside of normal business hours have a company provided mobile phone where the bill goes straight to the company. If we purchase that phone with our own money and don't get reimbursed for the purchase cost, then the phone is ours to keep even if we leave the company. Our company does support the use of iPhones (I have one) and it has some kind of special software on it that they claim allows remote wiping. Our tech support people claim that if you leave, your phone gets wiped, but you can restore your non-work related stuff from a backup. I've been told that supposedly this wipes your company email and I think that's all it really does once you restore from a backup. I have limited contact with a few former employees and while I never specifically asked if they had any problems after the wipe job, nobody has explicitly mentioned it either. I do have a few co-workers who have a company phone and their own phone, but I don't really understand the reasoning for it except they just like to do it that way. I have the impression that my company doesn't care at all about the contacts in your phone but they definitely want to stop you from reading work email or connecting to the work networks via your phone once you leave. That reference to having the ability to turn off the business phone is quaint. I don't know of anybody in IT who can actually do that. While we rotate on call where I work through a decent number of employees so that we are on call for a week at a time about once every 2 months, even when not on call we need to be reachable in case of a work emergency.

Re:Salesmen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47720507)

One of the problems I see with having just one (work) phone - is that when you leave and it now becomes your personal phone, it will be many moons before you stop getting calls from people who don't know you left. Phone numbers are scattered in many places, usually, in large companies.

Re:Salesmen (1)

tompaulco (629533) | about 2 months ago | (#47720659)

I never give any customers my cell phone number. Certain people at work know my cell phone number, but if I were ever to leave or get fired, all the people would know about it, probably before I do.

Re:Salesmen (2)

tompaulco (629533) | about 2 months ago | (#47720703)

I work for a small company that has the same policy. They do not issue corporate phones, but you must have a phone and must be reachable 24/7. You must receive work e-mails on your phone and in order to do that, you have to install software which allows the company full control of your phone, including remotely wiping it. This irks me, that the company will not buy me a phone, but reserves the right to brick the phone I pay for at any time. They do reimburse a certain amount for the phone bill, but you have to get the reimbursement request in within 30 days. if you don't, then you get nothing, and they won't let you go back in time and not answer your phone.

Re:Salesmen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47721049)

I have a separate work and personal phone*. I work in a place where I have some pretty important people in my industry as contacts in the phone, and my biggest concern is accidentally drunk dial/texting one of those people and the fallout that may ensue. There are also some people that I am forced to interact with during the course of work and I am more comfortable with them not having my personal contact info to bother me on my personal time.

* My personal is Android and I could have used it as BYOD, but they were offering iPhones as work devices. So a small factor in that decision was it gave me an excuse to have an iPhone and become familiar with that ecosystem for free. As someone involved in a technology role, I felt that was a very big gap in knowledge that most people would probably expect of me. Further, there are some helpful industry-specific apps I would like to use but are iOS-only.

Re:Salesmen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47720083)

This is when a dual-sim phone is appropriate. You use the business SIM for business calls and such, and the personal SIM for personal stuff, and the phone should (if designed correctly) keep all data associated with each fully compartementalized. FWIW, Nokia on their dual-SIM Asha devices (semi-smart phones) is the only one who has come close to this, and now Microsoft is axing the division and designs and makes them...

Re:Salesmen (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about 2 months ago | (#47720543)

The whole main posting topic is similar to business provided cars vs. rental cars. At one point in time I was stuck renting cars to get to work for a while, my boss keeping under so much stress and uncertainty about the future that I never got to the point to making the jump into purchasing a car, right after college, for months on and on. And they teased me to go to some scale manufacturer, with my own car, and were waiting for me to raise the miles done under business hours using a personal car issue, but of course I shrugged it off, last thing you need when you're trying to get hired on so you can jump into buying a car, is to bring whether you should be hired over making dumb decisions like that. It was supposed to be 4 months temp to hire, with enough pay in to temporarily afford a rental, unlike a minimum wage job, but pretty much all that pay went into this extended temporary situation of not knowing what the fuck I'm gonna be doing next week. As soon as I jumped into debt to get a reliable car, I would have been fired, it was just so much in the air. When they told me after 6 months that they like what I'm doing in some respect, but they can't hire me for at least another 6 months I quit. It was not a very healthy job anyway, always inhaling fumed silica dust and solvent in the lab, and that silica dust depositing on my eyeglass frames that were supposedly titanium, chewed it up, it was weird. Plus the lab coats I wore all had a spot of some kind of burning chemical half way up the arm, in an, let's annoy you kinda way, plus they announced a hiring freeze, then told you about the 6 months, because of the hiring freeze, then they post other college grads getting hired straight out college, without being temps first, during the hiring freeze, on the bulletin board posting saying that their greatest skill is drinking the most beer at keg parties. So it was like a general agreement it was time to go without actually getting fired.

So the point is would you charge a business for the gas cost and car cost it takes you to conduct your employment? There are rules that if you're on the clock they might reimburse you on car cost, but that's so up in the air, how about when you're not on the clock? Everyone is expected to have their own cars from their salaries, their own clothes, unless there are company provided uniforms, and in this sense a phone sometimes may be in the same ballpark as the clothes, so are you gonna charge the company for the wear and tear from the use of your shoes and clothes while being on the clock? That's how I'd consider looking at it. Own clothes vs. uniforms provided by the company, own car vs. company car, own phone vs. company provided phone. And out of those using your own car for business while on the clock is the most reasonable, but there are these exempt and non-exempt rules about overtime too, where managers are exempt from being paid overtime for the hours they work over 40 each week, instead they get a monthly salary (which in Feb is nice.) But if you work hours for free, and dedicating yourself to the company like that, then why nitpick on getting paid for using your car while doing regular work during non-overtime hours, and instead managing your personal affairs from the hopefully big salary the company is able to give you, without being bogged down the paperwork overhead of calculating how much they owe you over it. But of course the rule is that there is no rule. And it's easy to see how it can lead to exploitation, but the ultimate answer to that is that nobody forces you to work a job you don't like to work, or want to work, it's only exploitation if you're forced to work, as in you can't find a low cost of living for yourself, and you have to accept any exploiting job thrown at you, you have to keep up with the other dogs jumping higher for that piece of bacon, which is the general trend in the present unemployment atmosphere. There are no jobs, therefore all jobs are highly vulnerable to exploitation, so the court may have that on their side. If the economy picks up and unemployment drops, then you can go back to the common sense of don't sweat the small stuff, and do the best you can for the company without nitpicking, so they can make money and pay you a high paycheck. The overhead, the cost of administration of figuring out the correct amount to reimburse, and verifying that's it's not false, or fighting abuses like that, is huge compared to the sums being reimbursed. There may be a net economic gain to you as an employee, but when you count the team, the gang, the both of you, the overall effect of reimbursing is an economic loss to the gang.

Re:Salesmen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47719621)

Of course when you use a proper combination of a MDM and containerization you certainly can wipe just the corporate stuff. Also, who doesn't enable the automatic backup of pictures now? Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Dropbox and others all offer this. On my device I actually have both Google and OneDrive automatic backup enabled.

Re:Salesmen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47719941)

People who are too paranoid^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H security conscious to give all their photos to a 3rd party. I have an app that uploads to my nas when I charge my phone at home, which is a fair compromise.

Re:Salesmen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47720065)

You could just mandate a blackberry, which solves both this problem. Android phones is coming up soon.

Re:Salesmen (0)

jellomizer (103300) | about 2 months ago | (#47719663)

PETA will probably have less issues just as long as you are not packing the phones in leather or fur.

Re:Salesmen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47719709)

Multiple, separated accounts on a single phone would have an obvious need sooner rather than later. Wipes, metering and device management in general would be so much easier.

Re:Salesmen (1)

rhazz (2853871) | about 2 months ago | (#47719725)

We also have secondary phones for IT after-hours support. I suppose in our case this enables the phone to be passed around to whoever is on call, but really nobody wants their personal cell phone being called unless there is an emergency (and I work in a regulatory body so it's pretty much never an emergency).

Re:Salesmen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47719761)

And a third, for calling the mistress.

Re:Salesmen (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 2 months ago | (#47720053)

Not uncommon for a salesman to have two cell phones. One provided by the company, and their personal. Aside from the PITA of packing and charging both devices, it makes since to keep both the phone numbers and billing separate.

It was before, but in recent years employers have been ending the company provided phone programs. We went through it recently and I lost my work phone. To be honest, I don't mind. I rooted my phone and can do with it what I want. Also, I don't feel obligated to answer just because it's a work call now. But yea, my employer wont like this ruling. Getting rid of the phones was painful but it saved them money. If they have to pay the money anyway, the entire painful mess is going to be a finger in their eye.

Business attire (1)

penguinoid (724646) | about 2 months ago | (#47720645)

Next, they can rule that companies must pay some or all of the costs of satisfying their dress codes. Hopefully that is done in such a way as to discourage forcing people to wear a suit and tie.

The memo you are about to see (5, Funny)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 2 months ago | (#47719563)

"From now on you are NOT to use your personal cellphones or other mobile devices for any work purposes. You will not be reimbursed. Use a payphone instead, and present all receipts to accounting for prompt reimbursement. Thank you for your help as we prioritize our cost metrics and structure our teamgroups toward innovative human-centered investment"

Re:The memo you are about to see (1)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about 2 months ago | (#47719571)

I can't remember the last time I saw a payphone in the wild.

Re:The memo you are about to see (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about 2 months ago | (#47719579)

I can't remember the last time I saw a payphone in the wild.

Airports

Re:The memo you are about to see (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47720609)

Indeed. at SLC international, they are crammed full of bright-eyed young Mormon missionaries calling home

Re:The memo you are about to see (2)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 2 months ago | (#47719599)

Let alone one which gave receipts...

Re:The memo you are about to see (1)

rhazz (2853871) | about 2 months ago | (#47719651)

Most payphones I see these days have been outfitted with credit and/or prepaid card slots. Credit cards would be an easy receipt (through bill printout), not so sure about prepaid cards...

Re:The memo you are about to see (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47719719)

Whoosh...

Re:The memo you are about to see (3, Insightful)

cdrudge (68377) | about 2 months ago | (#47720917)

Which is the whole point. The company gives explicit instructions that personal cell phones are not to be used or authorized. You have to find something alternative (pay phone, calling card, tin cans...). Now if you happen to still use your personal cell phone for a call, you're breaking policy. They won't know [wink wink] that you're using your personal cell phone for convenience unless you happen to try to get reimbursed for it. And if you try, well, that results in some type of reprimand/discipline since you violated company policy.

Re:The memo you are about to see (-1, Flamebait)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 2 months ago | (#47720271)

I can't remember the last time I saw a payphone in the wild.

The ghetto. Seriously, you know when you are in a bad neighborhood when you see a payphone. Probably explains why so many people say things like "gee all the payphones are gone!" thanks to their relatively privileged existence. I'm not judging, but that's how the class system in the USA works.

Re:The memo you are about to see (1)

Vlado (817879) | about 2 months ago | (#47719625)

Why would that be better?

Also, it's not really a problem itemising calls and defining what were business calls and how much they cost. Data usage may be slightly more complicated, but even that could be managed. You could, for instance, have a separate email client for business emails and then track data usage of that client.

I don't know where you work, bur with my job work is about getting things done and if costs are justifiable, then they are justifiable. At the end of the day, if I won't be able to check my work email then the boss will have to wait for my reply, not me.

Re:The memo you are about to see (1)

Grizzley9 (1407005) | about 2 months ago | (#47719841)

You could, for instance, have a separate email client for business emails and then track data usage of that client.

I don't know where you work, bur with my job work is about getting things done and if costs are justifiable, then they are justifiable. At the end of the day, if I won't be able to check my work email then the boss will have to wait for my reply, not me.

The issue I see with only tracking data usage is you leave out time dependant issues. I need my work computer to be connected during the working time, even if I'm not receiving any data, that's still part of business, letting me know nothing right now is coming in. When you are talking about working time, which for most is by hours, then your data usage (connection) should be by hours as well. If I work 8 hours out of 16 that I'm awake, that's half my internet bill (minus weekends).

Re:The memo you are about to see (1)

Vlado (817879) | about 2 months ago | (#47720465)

I don't quite understand your line of thought here.
Let's suppose that emails account for all your business data traffic. If you can track your business email data consumption, by having a dedicated app for business emails, then what does time matter? Your phone provider bills you based on how much data you consume, not based on how long you're connected. Your phone is connected all the time anyway.

The issue we're discussing here has to do with employer reimbursing you for expenses that you incur with your private phone, while working for them. Exactly how long you work every day isn't really relevant in this argument, since it doesn't change your expenses.

Re:The memo you are about to see (2)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 2 months ago | (#47720379)

Why would that be better?

Bahahaha. Satire much?

But seriously, lots of large companies don't think employees need mobile devices in the first place but employees who feel pressured to be high value contributors will do it anyway because they feel it gives them a leg up on the other employees. Paying 1,000 more phone bills isn't a tempting proposition for most large orgs, so there will be fallout from this.

corporate calling card could work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47719863)

The company could buy a calling card, and employees could use them.

Re:corporate calling card could work (1)

tepples (727027) | about 2 months ago | (#47720947)

I thought "calling cards" were for long distance from a land line, not for cellular airtime. Most cellular plans I've seen in the United States in the past decade come with nationwide long distance at no additional charge.

Re:The memo you are about to see (1)

bagofbeans (567926) | about 2 months ago | (#47720539)

I expect you are being ironic, but actually the problem I have observed is managers expecting to get hold of employees 24/7, so initiating the phone call.

Re:The memo you are about to see (2)

whoever57 (658626) | about 2 months ago | (#47720749)

You missed something from the policy:

Employees may not be called on their cellphones about work-related matters.

Re:The memo you are about to see (1)

blue9steel (2758287) | about 2 months ago | (#47720969)

Fantastic, it's like we're back in the 1980s and I can just ignore the phone unless I'm at my desk!

Working from home (4, Insightful)

aheath (628369) | about 2 months ago | (#47719567)

Should companies pay for part of the cable bill when employee are required to work from home?

Re:Working from home (3, Informative)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 2 months ago | (#47719581)

they used to.

when I started at cisco, back in the early 90's, they bought us a 14.4 modem, ncd x-terminal and a 2nd phone line. later, when I was at sgi, they run us a company paid isdn line. juniper also gave us isdn lines, iirc.

the big companies used to do this for us (all in calif., fwiw). now, they seem to assume 'you need inet and a phone, anyway' so they want to avoid paying, but I have always had to give my cell # to my workers and I do get work calls on my personal line. would be nice to have them just buy me a phone and fully cover it, at this point (my last job was android based devel and so, yes, we got a company phone and data plan all paid).

Re:Working from home (1)

crow (16139) | about 2 months ago | (#47719673)

Yup. EMC provided me with an ISDN line and later reimbursed me for my Internet expenses when they switched to VPN. I think it was just a few years ago that they stopped reimbursing, saying that home Internet is now normal, and the VPN use doesn't increase the cost.

My phone has always been paid for by the company. If they stop paying for it, I stop using a cell phone.

Re:Working from home (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47719929)

It sure as fuck will increase the cost when Comcast et al. start capping bandwith.

Re:Working from home (2)

whoever57 (658626) | about 2 months ago | (#47720807)

I think it was just a few years ago that they stopped reimbursing, saying that home Internet is now normal, and the VPN use doesn't increase the cost.

Since the Appeals court decided that plans with unlimited minutes and text were not a barrier to employers being held responsible for a portion of cellphone fees, the ruling could also apply to home Internet connections.

Re:Working from home (1)

tepples (727027) | about 2 months ago | (#47720981)

home Internet is now normal, and the VPN use doesn't increase the cost

Then calculate the VPN use in GB per month and bill whatever Exede (a satellite ISP) charges per GB over the cheapest plan.

Re:Working from home (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47719811)

I have always had to give my cell # to my workers and I do get work calls on my personal line. would be nice to have them just buy me a phone and fully cover it

This is a blessing and a curse. Its not the technology that's the issue, its the culture. If your work culture is one that expects you to be available 24x7 without competent offshore backup, there's a problem. This is the same culture that the boss/project manager sends an email at 9pm and expects everybody have to read it by 9am the next morning and be ready to discuss, there's a problem. Note: This does not count late night / early morning conference calls for timezone crossover, that is business as usual these days. This also does not count true emergencies for which yes I have received a share of calls on my personal line on weekends. Common sense to determine what's reasonable and what's not.

I personally do not want my company reimbursing me for anything that resides in my home. Work is work, home is home, you should only mix the two on rare occasion, not all the time.

Re:Working from home (1)

jabuzz (182671) | about 2 months ago | (#47720755)

No problem come live in my house. Some ferrous/magnetic material in the bricks that make the walls means no phone signal in the house unless you are right by a window and we can "fix" that by replacing the sealed units with ones that have "energy saving" glass. I have to use a femtocell for a reliable mobile signal :-)

Re:Working from home (1)

Grizzley9 (1407005) | about 2 months ago | (#47719887)

now, they seem to assume 'you need inet and a phone, anyway' so they want to avoid paying, but I have always had to give my cell # to my workers and I do get work calls on my personal line. would be nice to have them just buy me a phone and fully cover it, at this point (my last job was android based devel and so, yes, we got a company phone and data plan all paid).

I never give out my personal to co workers. That's why I have Google Voice. I automatically know when it rings if it's work or something else.

Re:Working from home (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47720801)

Cisco still pays for your internet.

Re:Working from home (1)

RivenAleem (1590553) | about 2 months ago | (#47719659)

What about heating and electricity!

Re:Working from home (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about 2 months ago | (#47719825)

My company does this. You're entitled to reimbursement of your Internet connection charges (not the whole cable bill, of course) up to $50/mo. This actually doesn't cover my whole ISP bill (thanks, Comcast!), but hey, every little bit helps.

Re:Working from home (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47720595)

Yes, every major company I'm aware of that allows telecommuting also pays a stipend for network access. The only anomaly I'm aware of is the DoD, in which part of the telework agreement, you specifically agree to pay for your own network access, but that's a case where telework is not required, but a benefit which may be allowed. (significant statutory difference between permitted only by agreement v.s. passively or actively encouraged). However, while with the DoD, I was issued a blackberry with tethering because I didn't have a telework agreement but was expected to perform"local travel" to visit clients.

Re:Working from home (1)

robstout (2873439) | about 2 months ago | (#47720615)

My previous job did, but I was doing a lot of late-night support/on-call work. Seemed fair to me.

Re:Working from home (2)

Just Some Guy (3352) | about 2 months ago | (#47721135)

Should companies pay for part of the cable bill when employee are required to work from home?

I'm perfectly happy with the compensation of "we'll let you use the Internet connection you already had if you want to not come into the office and be distracted by a hundred meetings and other interruptions".

It depends (5, Interesting)

nurb432 (527695) | about 2 months ago | (#47719655)

To me it all centers around: Was BYOD optional?

If they offered a company device and you refused, then i say you are on your own.

If they didnt offer one but you NEED it to do your job, then i say they are on the hook, as well as tax credit ramifications.

If they dont offer and you only use it as its a convenience to make your life easier, then again, you are on your own.

Furthermore, if you are optionally using your device for office work, they get to mandate policy on its use, up to and including MDM type control.

BYOD is just a bad idea. Companies should give employees the tools they need for their job, and forbid personal devices.

Re:It depends (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 2 months ago | (#47719715)

If BYOD is optional, Reimbursement isn't that bad of an idea. Having to carry two phones around is a pain. And if you BYOD then the company makes out as they don't need to pay for the full service, you make out because you can get the phone you want and not carry around a cheaper often bigger and bulkier phone.

Re:It depends (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47720593)

How does adding more work for the company make it easier for them.

And business plans are waaaay fucking cheaper then residential plans. I know I deal with telecom at my company.

If the company assigns you a work phone then take it. Boo Hoo you have to carry two devices around. No one is forcing you to use the work device after work, and if they are, then you should go bitch to your local government representative and complain you aren't being paid overtime.

Re:It depends (1)

tompaulco (629533) | about 2 months ago | (#47721001)

And business plans are waaaay fucking cheaper then residential plans

Your business must be better at negotiation than the ones I have worked with. The last company had 300 employees and their plans cost them $100 per employee. No Data, No Texting. Limited to about 1200 minutes. They dropped that plan eventually and went to reimbursing as that was much cheaper. Then they dropped that and went to just not paying for employees phones at all, which was even cheaper. It should be noted that this company involved a lot of travel and cell phone was often the only means of contact with the employee.

Re:It depends (1)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | about 2 months ago | (#47720373)

Dear god it's quite simple: do you use it for business purposes? If so, then the employer is on the hook for reimbursing you. Period. That's how it works for driving a car. Now the employer can provide you with a company phone and mandate you use it. Period. That is often the case when companies don't want to reimburse their employees. Business are getting cheaper and cheaper. Hello 1900s.

Not that simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47720671)

If I provide ball point pens, and you prefer to use felt tip pens instead, I'm not on the hook for paying for the felt tip pens. That's very different than a car. Notice that almost all of us are already provided with a company phone, tied to our desks.

Re:It depends (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47720565)

My company orders mobile devices for employees at certain levels (mainly supervisors and higher). A lost of those folks complain when they are given a new phone and say they just want to use their own/don't want to carry two phones.

We have them sign a waiver telling them we won't offer any support on their mobile device outside of making sure that the settings for work email are correct (also have a list of devices that are approved to work with our network).

Almost always they come back and say the want the company to pay their bill. To which we tell them, talk to the finance department, by the way we mentioned that we won't reimburse you for this on the waiver you signed AND we offered you a company issued phone for which you wouldn't have to worry about filling out expense reports or using up your monthly allotted MB/GB usages with your personal carrier.

Re:It depends (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 months ago | (#47720763)

If they give you the option of using your phone to help them make money, then they are on the hook.
If they don't want to do that, then don't allow person phones for business.

Companies are doing this to foist the cost of doing business onto their employees.

Re:It depends (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 2 months ago | (#47721091)

Just as the ruling stated: ""We hold that when employees must use their personal cell phones for work-related calls..."

This clearly leaves your employer the option of requiring you to carry a cellphone they own as a condition of employment. Or leaving you alone at home.

Re:It depends (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about 2 months ago | (#47721137)

If they dont offer and you only use it as its a convenience to make your life easier, then again, you are on your own.

There is no such thing as "optional" work. If you don't "voluntarily" use your phone to get more work done, then you'll be replaced by somebody who does. You won't be fired for not using your cell phone - you'll be fired for being the slowest person in the department.

If this were blue-collar work then we'd be talking about people "voluntarily" not using provided safety equipment because it slows them down. The only way to regulate this sort of thing is that if an employee gets injured due to deliberate disobedience of corporate policy that says they had to use safety gear, you have to fine the company millions of dollars anyway. Then the employer will actually ENFORCE the policy, and not just let 99% of their employees ignore it, and fire the 1% who follow it.

If the company doesn't want employees using their personal cell phones, then they should forbid their use to do work, and take steps to ensure access is blocked (not actively facilitate their use).

Why is this treated differently (2)

twistofsin (718250) | about 2 months ago | (#47719667)

Than any other job that requires you to have your own tools?

Re:Why is this treated differently (4, Informative)

MightyYar (622222) | about 2 months ago | (#47719747)

This isn't the tool (cellphone is to hammer) - this is the consumables (minutes is to nails).

Re:Why is this treated differently (0)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | about 2 months ago | (#47720383)

Still the same thing.

Re: Why is this treated differently (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47721055)

Except no construction job requires the workers to pay for the nails.

Re:Why is this treated differently (2)

AF_Cheddar_Head (1186601) | about 2 months ago | (#47721075)

Nope, as a carpenter I bring the hammer (phone) but sure as hell don't pay for the nails (minutes/GB).

See the difference now?

Re:Why is this treated differently (2)

tepples (727027) | about 2 months ago | (#47721079)

Someone who has to buy his own nails is more likely to be a contractor (1099) than an employee (W-2).

Re:Why is this treated differently (3, Interesting)

tompaulco (629533) | about 2 months ago | (#47721085)

I am not aware of any construction company that requires you to have your own hammer and nails.
I am aware of some contractors that expect the customer to provide them with tools and consumables. This is baffling to me.
Oddly enough, I am also aware of some companies that require employees to bring their own keyboard and mouse. The keying facility in Mexico that we used to work with required their people to bring heir own because when they used company equipment, the equipment got broken very frequently. Apparently, the employees take better care of their own equipment. I'm not sure if Mexican law requires for them to be reimbursed. I would guess probably not.

Re:Why is this treated differently (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47721011)

If your construction job required you to bring your own nails, they'd have to reimburse you. I'm not sure why so many people are confused by technology and approach age-old situations as if they're new and novel just because it involves a phone or computer.

Get ready to submit an itemized cell phone bill... (4, Interesting)

HockeyPuck (141947) | about 2 months ago | (#47719679)

I've seen this before at a company in California. My company would only reimburse for work related calls.
You couldn't just submit the entire bill for reimbursement, as if you called your wife and kids 50% of the time you couldn't get reimbursed for that.

We were required to take the physical bill and cross out those calls which were personal so you could demonstrate what % of the bill was work related vs. personal. Doing this for what could be hundreds of calls per month caused people to just not reimburse their usage as it was too much of a pain to do.

what about unlimited cell phone plans? (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 months ago | (#47720553)

what about unlimited cell phone plans?

Re:what about unlimited cell phone plans? (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 months ago | (#47720781)

percentage based.

Re:Get ready to submit an itemized cell phone bill (4, Interesting)

tompaulco (629533) | about 2 months ago | (#47721139)

This is what I don't understand about companies. They are too cheap to just reimburse you at a flat $50 rate for your cell phone, and so they will require you, an employee that costs them probably $100-$200 an hour, to go through and cross out the non-work related calls, then they will require someone else in HR who costs about the same to crosscheck what you did to make sure you are not lying, then they will reimburse you $45 because the phone bill was $90 and half the calls were company related. Total dollars recovered? $5. Dollars spent saving that money? $50-$100.
It is the same way with travel. Rather than give you a per diem of $100, they want itemized receipts, which you have to collect, enter into the system, submit, your manager has to review and approve, and then Travel has to audit and approve. All because they don't want you to go eat Ramen and pocket the other $97. They spend thousands of dollars of company time to save a few hundred dollars on travel expenses.

Re:Get ready to submit an itemized cell phone bill (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47721147)

It's a company requirement so I do it on company time. Doesn't matter how long it takes to me if I'm getting paid.

What a nightmare (1, Informative)

fnj (64210) | about 2 months ago | (#47719683)

So let's say Joe buys on date X for personal use a no-contract phone and uses Virgin Mobile pay as you go, $37.xx per month which covers unlimited data and texts, and 300 voice minutes. What is a "reasonable percentage of his phone bill"? Hmmm? To me, it sounds like a cluster fuck to settle on. He doesn't even HAVE a "bill" for the amortization of the phone itself, but it is a real expense. He bought it in spring 2013 and intends to keep it until it develops a serious problem. Nobody knows when that will be, so nobody knows the amortization table.

If he goes over 300 voice minutes, his only recourse is to either start a new month ahead of time, or step to a new plan mid-month with more voice minutes. There is another accounting cluster-fuck.

Another reason to avoid BYOD (2)

AF_Cheddar_Head (1186601) | about 2 months ago | (#47719783)

Just because it's an accounting cluster fuck doesn't meat that the company should get out of paying.

It's an accounting cluster fuck to determine your vacation eligibility so guess what, no vacation for you.

Re:What a nightmare (1)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | about 2 months ago | (#47720425)

Hardly. Why are people such fucking idiots when it comes to this stuff. There are formulas that have been used for the same thing for other devices. This is no different. You report the number of minutes you used the device for business purposes and assign a cost to each minute. Businesses do this all the time when determining what to charge customers.

Re:What a nightmare (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47720923)

What would stop someone from getting a second cell-phone plan just for work and requiring 100% compensation?

Blackberry Z10 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47719735)

If the company wants to reach me by phone, they have to provide one to me.
The Z10 has personal / work split, so work e-mail, contacts, etc sit on the work side.
The personal side has whatever e-mail accounts you want to setup, personal contacts, texts, etc...

Company pays for tethering/hotspot, unlimited data, etc...

Why would i bother to buy my own device?

Re:Blackberry Z10 (1)

tepples (727027) | about 2 months ago | (#47721003)

Why would i bother to buy my own device?

To run applications that have not been ported to BlackBerry.

Softphone (1)

Grizzley9 (1407005) | about 2 months ago | (#47719763)

My large (70k+), international company implemented a PC based smartphone service for employees to use since many work from home. I wonder if this passes their test. I've never used it cause I'd have to get a dedicated headset and I'd rather just use my cell phone but it will be interesting to see if there is any cascading effect on companies starting to use more softphones for people that work from home or are on the road with a laptop.

Also, if phone usage is req'd to be reimbursed for working at home, what about internet bills? Phone usage could be reimbursed based upon number of minutes averaged. But data could be based upon actual time used since my personal usage is more data than work, but time spent needing the net is more for work.

I had cell reimbursement options, never used them (1)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | about 2 months ago | (#47719849)

I've been at a couple of companies now where there were cell reimbursement plans, but I never used them with my personal devices.

1) Hassle. I pay like $30/month for 3 hours of voice (which I never use) and nearly unlimited data. Dealing with accountants to get what's basically lunch money out of the company each month isn't worth it.
2) Line item sharing. I talk to a lot of interesting people on my cell phone, including friends working for competitors, previous employers and places that might want to hire me next. I don't really want to file a paper trail on my communications with the company from whom I'm currently drawing my paycheck.
3) Leashing. I don't put company email on my personal phone - period. Nor do I subscribe to a company-generated phone wipe. If someone really needs me, they can track me down through SMS or (shudder) voice, which is still easy because I put my cell phone number on every email I send, every ticket I file, etc.

   

What BS (2)

johnlcallaway (165670) | about 2 months ago | (#47719871)

Following that logic, they should also be required to help pay for my network at home, part of the cost of my desktop, and my work clothes, since they have required me to have all three.

My compensation requirement when I look for a job is dependent upon my work requirements, I don't have to work for a company that won't pay for my internet connection, provide a support computer, or pay for business wear. I choose to work for the company I work for because they compensate me enough that I can take care of those requirements. I'm not one of those people that see 'free stuff' in these rulings. Instead, I see increased costs that will be passed on to the consumer.

Several years ago, a company paid for my relocation. Instead of having a list of onerous rules and requiring detailed record keeping, they gave me a flat fee based on my salary. Funny thing about that, I found the cheapest way to move and pocketed the rest. May or may not have saved the company money, but it sure made my life easier. And no one at the office had to deal with the paperwork, pouring over every receipt to make sure it was allowed. My guess is that the company found, in the long run, that it was cheaper to do it that way. It was their choice, their freedom to decide how to handle relocation. As most company benefits (including medical) should be. That's how a free market economy works, by providing choices and letting competition settle things. Companies with the best benefits/pay/work environment get the brightest and smartest. If someone works for a company with poor benefits/pay/work environment ...maybe it's their lack of marketable skills or motivation that keeps them there.

My company currently does provide support phones because some idiot in security won't let us use Touchdown on our Android phones to get our email. So they give me a useless piece-of-shit iPhone (small screen, no back button, can't install apps on it because of security). Which sits on my desk at home, plugged into a charger and never used. I setup Google voice to forward calls to my Android phone, and setup rules to forward emails from important people to my Android phone. The company spends $$ a month for phones for many employees that don't even use them. I'm can get an iPhone through my service provider, and they will pay for the monthly service if I choose to. But then I have to have a phone with fewer useful features than my Samsung S4, which I prefer (as do many ex-iPhone users that I know of).

Yet more bullshit rules from the land of nanny-government.

Re:What BS (1)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | about 2 months ago | (#47720459)

This is not new. This is standard operating procedure for doing business. Companies have either provided company cars or reimbursed employees for driving their own cars. Companies have either provided company credit cards or reimbursed employees when they paid out of pocket. Hell some businesses have a clothes allowance. Grow up you fucking moron.

Re:What BS (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 months ago | (#47720845)

I miss clothing allowances. OTOH, I do not miss wearing a suit every day.
The first real company I worked for had a clothing allowance, free dry cleaning, and an person office decoration allowance.
In fact, they gave me a bonus after I joined so I could get a couple of 'real' suits when they found out my suits where off the rack from sears.

uniforms have there own rules in alot of places (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 months ago | (#47720623)

uniforms have there own rules in alot of places.

In all 50 states the basic part is you have basic wear AKA no logos / basic Dress Code then they don't have to pay. If they force your to have there shit's / etc the costs can't pull you under mini wage. If they force your to have there shit's / etc in some states they must pay for them and in other they must pay all costs.

Re:What BS (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 months ago | (#47720831)

Companies are foisting the cost of doing business onto there employees.
So it needs to stop. AS we have seen, many times, corporation will demand more and more and they will all start doing it so you won't actually have a choice.

The rest of you post is irrelevant to the discussion.

Either use dual-sim or multiple SIP accounts (1)

SpzToid (869795) | about 2 months ago | (#47719899)

Obviously a dual-SIM phone can alleviate this problem, as can a modern phone with multiple SIP accounts configured, assuming then you have a good data plan, or can live happily as a simple hotspot-whore, (and most people could!).

To cite a reference, these Nokia phones have SIP support within the OS, so battery life is excellent, compared to having to run an App just for SIP accounts, (like SIPdroid).

http://developer.nokia.com/com... [nokia.com]

The Nokia N9 and N900 phones also have SIP support within the OS and battery life is very good. Hmmm, I never bothered to look, but what about Jolla's Sailfish? For that matter, does anyone else know of another low-energy SIP stack in-use? I don't think iOS offers it, but I've been wrong before.

As to how to get your company telephone line (DID) in a workable state so you can access it via SIP, well, you're on your own slashdotters. (Hint: lowest common denominator is something like an OBi110 PSTN FXO adapter). In fact an OBi110 and a Raspberry Pi runny asterisk/FreePBX can forward incoming calls from a DID to any pre-configured (mobile) phone number.

That's a simple solution. At which point separate telephone bills become trivial and automatic.

Clothes (1)

Bigby (659157) | about 2 months ago | (#47719937)

They require me to wear clothes at work. Should they reimburse me for that?

Re:Clothes (0)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | about 2 months ago | (#47720479)

If they require you to wear expensive suits as part of your responsibilities, then yes. Which is common. How's that douche bag.

Re:Clothes (1)

phorm (591458) | about 2 months ago | (#47720567)

Work uniform? If you're in Canada, then the answer is yes (actually, they supply it and you get a stipend for cleaning etc).

$50 here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47720039)

I work for a major tech company. You can get reimbursed for up to $50/month no questions asked.

Re:$50 here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47720429)

I remember in early 2000s when both myself and the devs I worked w/ had internet first broadband connections. And we used fairly often after-hours for work. Basically the employer decided to avg between their (they lived in bigger city) and mine a small town bills and give use 60%. Which was a good deal for me as my circuit was cheaper. All we had to do was bring in a copy of the bill each month. Since then I have never had the occasion outside my own company to do that.

On cells most cases I didn't worry about it as I would have one anyway and felt as little as it was used I was paid enough to not need to do that. In fact I more often at one job put my office phone to my cell so I could go around the facility and could be called instead of paged. The made everyone's life easier. Between this ruling and the IRS rules in the last few years this going to be a headache.

Seperate Phones (1)

robstout (2873439) | about 2 months ago | (#47720651)

I carry two phones, my personal phone, and one supplied by my company. Yes, it can be a pain, but I prefer having my personal contacts/info seperate from my work device. Also, I can shut down my work phone when I'm on vacation, and still have my personal calls for my own email/calls/etc. It helps me maintain a work life balance.

Re:Seperate Phones (1)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | about 2 months ago | (#47720925)

What tends to happen is the company phone winds up in a drawer somewhere and is forgotten. Company pays yearly to keep line open and no minutes are used on phone. Employees are unreachable on those phone numbers once battery runs out.
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