The arrival of employee personal devices in the workplace—from iPhones, to tablets to notebook computers—are raising thorny issues for employers.

It’s often convenient and less expensive for employers to let their employees use their personal devices at work to make phone calls, send and receive emails, and handle other work functions.

The problem says Theresa Nelson, a partner in the employment law practice at Strauss Troy, is determining who owns the information on the employee’s personal device.

“What right does the employer have to grab and look at, monitor and retrieve information when somebody leaves employment? How do you deal with getting that information off that employee’s phone, iPad or computer, without invading their privacy?” she says. 

Allowing employees to BYOD (bring your own device) to work may seem like a simple solution to managing technology, but employers need to weigh a lot of pros and cons, Nelson says.

“It’s not one size fits all. That’s often the fatal flaw that people run into,” she says. “You need to really look at what your business is, who your employees are, what functions they serve and what information they have access to. The information your sales rep has on a personal device is going to be a lot different than someone in accounting and you may want different policies for each.”

Earlier this year Pres. Barack Obama proposed expanding overtime pay coverage to about five million more U.S. workers. The change is part of a proposed rulemaking by the Department of Labor to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. 

“You’re talking about a huge part of the working population that employers are going to have to monitor and may have to pay overtime to,” Nelson says. “That would have a significant impact on some businesses.”

Nonexempt employees are typically hourly employees who are entitled to overtime pay, while exempt employees are typically salaried employees who are not entitled to overtime. But with the changing scope of many jobs there’s been growing discussion of expanding who is entitled to overtime pay. 

The Obama proposal would increase the salary threshold under which an exempt worker would be eligible for overtime from $455 a week ($23,660 a year) to an estimated $970 a week ($50,440 a year). According to the White House the change would affect about 230,000 workers in Ohio and Kentucky. A final decision is expected sometime next year.

In the face of changing technology and work styles, Nelson says, employers need to take a hard look at their employment policies.

“A majority of my time is spent helping employers when they’re reacting to something versus dealing with it on the front end,” she says.

“I spend a lot of time, frankly, undoing a bad precedent that they had in place.”

For example, many businesses don’t update their employment policies as they grow.

“The company is 500 employees today and they have the same policies as they had when there were just two employees starting out. I encounter that all the time,” Nelson says.

Any business with employees is going to run into issues, she says.

“At some point they are going to fire somebody. If they known how to deal with the issues up front, they won’t just be reacting.”

Being proactive about developing employment policies and practices, she says, “saves you a ton of time, money and headaches on backend.”