What’s all this fuss about BYOD?


There used to be a character on Saturday Night Live that Gilda Radner played by the name of Emily Littela. Emily was a little old lady that came on the news segment to respond to a supposed editorial position by the news station. She would start off with “What’s all this fuss about….” and follow it with some misperceived statement such as “violins (violence) and sex on TV” or “Soviet jewelry (Jewry)” or “the deaf (death) penalty”. Chevy Chase as the newscaster would interrupt her and say “Emily the editorial was about violence and sex on TV, not violins” to which her response was “Oh, that is very different… never mind.” I could see the same sort of thing happening with BYOD.

The mistake

I envision the skit going something like this:
Emily says “What is all this fuss about BYOD. I often bring my own drugs wherever I go. I cannot do without my blood pressure medication, my hormone pills and my aspirin for my aching feet….” At which point she gets interrupted and is told the “D” in BYOD is not drugs but rather “devices.” To which she responds “Well that is different… Never mind.”

The fuss

The problem is there is a fuss about BYOD and your employees, even more so for one segment of your employees. With all employees it is important to have a good policy that spells out all of the provisions of employee’s doing company business with their own device, as I spelled out in Three Important issues about your BYOD policy. Employers encounter issues of privacy, security and ownership when having employees using their own devices.
That however is not the only issue. There is a very big fuss when nonexempt employees are using their devices for work and that time takes them beyond 40 hours of work time. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act nonexempt employees who work beyond 40 hours in a week (State requirements may be different) must be paid for the time they work at time and a half. In order to comply with this law that means an employer must have a way of recording all the time an employee uses their device to work in order to properly compensate them. Phone calls, emails sent and responded to, and Internet searches done that are work-related must all be tracked so they can be recorded as “time worked.”

Potential magnitude

As you can see, if you are a company of any size and you have a good number of nonexempt employees who are performing work using their devices to work overtime the magnitude of the problem can get big. If you have not been recording this time and the USDOL comes knocking on your door you can be required to look back two years to try to capture all the extra time potentially worked and then compensate the employees as needed. If you do not have the time records then the USDOL uses the employees’ recollections as to the time they spent. If the USDOL thinks you knew you should have been recording that time and did not do so on purpose then a third year plus penalties plus fines can get tacked on.
So, even though Emily had the wrong “D” in her statement she was right to think there is a fuss about BYOD.

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