Is it legal for the employer to ask employees to use their personal cell phones for work?


Rita Risser Chai replies:

In California, the employer can ask employees to use their cell phones for work, but the employer has to reimburse the employee a reasonable amount for using the phone. Even if you have an unlimited plan and don’t incur extra expenses, the company still has to reimburse you. That’s according to the case of Cochran v. Schwan’s Home Serv., Inc., interpreting California Labor Code section 2802 which requires an employer to: “indemnify his or her employee for all necessary expenditures or losses incurred by the employee in direct consequence of the discharge of his or her duties, or of his or her obedience to the directions of the employer.” Other states may have a similar law on the books that could be interpreted the same way.

Posted 01-15-2016

Information here is correct at the time it is posted. Case decisions cited here may be reversed. Please do not rely on this information without consulting an attorney first.


About the Author:

Rita M. Risser Chai is the founder of Fair Measures. An attorney in California for 20 years and now an attorney in Hawaii, she authored the Prentice Hall book, Stay Out of Court! The Manager’s Guide to Preventing Employee Lawsuits. She developed most of the curriculum used by Fair Measures, created the firm’s first website praised in HR Magazine, and wrote numerous articles on employment law including one on best practice harassment prevention training published in the magazine of the American Society for Training and Development (now ATD). She taught Law and Human Resources at the University of California, Santa Cruz, for eight years, and has presented four times at the annual conventions of the Hawaii Society of Human Resource Management.