Do your employees use their own electronic devices for work purposes? Bring your own device, or BYOD, is an increasingly popular workplace practice; together with the growth in remote working or working from home arrangements, it presents several potential employment law and business risk issues.
BYOD: advantages and disadvantages
The BYOD advantages are largely obvious. Employees may prefer to use, and indeed be more efficient if using, their own devices such as smartphones and laptops. In turn there is a reduction in cost to employers who are not providing employees with these items.
But there are disadvantages to be considered, and a proactive approach should be taken towards risk management. Employees using their own technology may increase confidentiality, security and safety risks. What happens if an employee loses their phone which contains access to company databases? How could your business retain, or at least remove access to, company data contained on employee-owned devices post-termination? From a safety perspective, are employees using their devices safely and correctly (ie while driving; appropriate workspaces for laptop use at home etc)?
What to include in your BYOD policy
A BYOD policy is a good starting point. The policy should cover security and confidentiality and set out both employer and employee obligations. Employees wanting to use their own devices should first be required to read and sign off on the policy.
The policy can set ground rules which may mitigate future risks. Depending on the nature of the business this may include password and security requirements with enhanced protection where company information is to be accessed remotely or on mobile devices.
It may also cover:
· obligations in relation to OH&S;
· requirements post-termination for the removal or return of information;
· minimum viral or spyware protection;
· and processes for reporting a loss or theft of an item which may pose a security breach for the business.
Lastly, don’t forget to cross-reference your policies with regard to appropriate conduct and social media.
Employees using their own devices can be advantageous for both employees and employers. To avoid problems down the track, make sure that both parties understand their obligations at the outset, and have processes in place to deal with issues if they do arise.
Sarah Waterhouse, Solicitor, BlandsLaw