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Kathleen O’Brien Comments on Whether Employers Should Compensate for the Use of Personal Cellphones for Work in the Globe and Mail

January 11, 2024

Photo of Kathleen obrien for Globe and Mail

Carbert Waite LLP Associate Kathleen O’Brien was recently asked to comment in The Globe and Mail for their Career Advice Column.

The question asked was whether employers should compensate employees for the use of a personal cellphone for work purposes.

Ms. O’Brien’s answer begins as follows:

Employers commonly rely on a ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) model, requiring employees to use their personal electronic devices for both personal and work-related purposes, rather than the employer providing a separate device. Your employer may or may not have a BYOD-specific policy, which should address key factors including compensation for the use of a personal device, privacy management and acceptable use of the device.

Your first step would be to ask your employer whether they have a BYOD policy in place. If they do, ask to see a copy of the policy to see if it includes compensation for the use of your personal device. If your employer does not have a BYOD policy, or their policy does not address compensation, they may still be required to compensate you for work-related expenses. Your next step would be to talk to your employer about compensation for these expenses, including the use of your cellphone. You should be aware that if your employer reimburses you for the use of your personal cellphone, the amount provided to you will be considered a taxable benefit.

Ms. O’Brien goes on to note that you may wish to explore the option of refusing to use your personal device if it was not a term of your employment contract, but she cautions there may be consequences for such refusal. The full response and the rest of the article are behind a paywall, but if you are a subscriber of the Globe and Mail, you can read it here.