Cellular and Wireless Mobile Devices – Policy and Procedures

Willamette University

Cellular and Wireless Mobile Devices – Policy and Procedures

Updated: July 25, 2011

  1. Purpose – Cellular telephones, as well as a host of other cellular or wireless-network-based mobile devices, can be useful tools for University employees in the performance of job duties.  However, the cellular and other wireless mobile devices carried by employees are frequently used for personal, non-business related communications and other activities.  The IRS recognizes such dual use as the typical case and views the University’s financial support for the mobile devices carried by employees as a taxable benefit.  Willamette University must have a policy on mobile devices that is in compliance with federal regulations.  The University also wishes to have a policy that allows employees the freedom to combine business and personal use on their mobile devices.
  1. Policy - For employees who spend considerable time outside their assigned office area or who must be accessible outside of scheduled or normal work hours, a cellular device can provide a significant benefit.   Based on job duties, certain employees may qualify for extra compensation, in the form of a taxable allowance, to cover the business-related costs of using personally-owned mobile devices.   The allowance is not intended to cover 100% of the cost of owning and using a mobile device.
  1. Eligibility Guidelines – Employees receiving a mobile device allowance from the University much meet one or more of the following criteria:
    1. Safety or emergency response requirements indicate that having a mobile device is an integral part of performing one’s job duties.
    2. The employee is required to be readily accessible outside of normal business hours for frequent contact with faculty, staff, students, alumni, prospective students or the general public.
    3. The employee is required to be mobile both on- and off-campus for a significant portion of work hours.
    4. The employee is required to provide extended hour support for critical services or is responsible for operational support or decision-making for critical services both during the work day and outside normal business hours.  (The extended hour support for critical services eligibility criteria does not ordinarily apply to faculty/student communications, even though these communications may occur outside of regular business hours.)
  1. Establishment and Maintenance
    1. Employees will only be provided an allowance if they have received written approval from their supervisors.  If a direct supervisor determines it is necessary and appropriate, according to the guidelines above, for an employee to receive a mobile device allowance, the supervisor may sign and submit the Cellular or Wireless Mobile Device Agreement on behalf of the employee for approval by the appropriate senior staff member.  The form will then be sent to Human Resources for processing by the Payroll Office.  The form will be retained in the employee’s file. 
    2. Prior to receiving the first stipend, employees must demonstrate to their supervisors that they own the mobile device for which they are requesting an allowance. 
    3. The allowance shall be added to the employee’s compensation in the next full payroll cycle after receiving a completed Cellular or Wireless Mobile Device Agreement.  The allowance does not constitute an increase in base pay and will not be included in the calculation of increase to base pay due to annual raises, step increases, job upgrades, etc.
    4. The allowance amount will be considered taxable income to the employee.  The allowance levels are set to provide for the additional tax burden an employee will incur.
    5. Supervisors are responsible for an annual review of employee eligibility to determine if existing allowances should be continued, changed, or discontinued.
    6. A new form must be submitted if the employee changes positions.
    7. The mobile device allowance will cease immediately upon termination of employment.
    8. Employees who have not received approval for an allowance will not be compensated for incidental business use of personal cellular devices.

 

  1. Employee Responsibilities
    1. Employees will be responsible for selecting, contracting and paying for the mobile services and devices they desire.  Employees will assume responsibility for all vendor terms and conditions.  This will allow employees to choose a plan that fits both their personal and professional lives.

The University cannot guarantee support for or provide services to all mobile devices.  To ensure compatibility with University systems, e.g. e-mail and calendaring, employees are strongly encouraged to consult with WITS staff prior to purchasing a mobile device they plan to use for business purposes.

 

  1. Employees will not be required to itemize their professional usage or submit periodic documentation to the University.
  2. Employees should retain proof of purchase and detailed monthly service plan records to document their eligibility for participation in the program.
  3. Recipients of a cellular device allowance must provide their supervisors and Human Resources with their cellular device numbers and must maintain their cellular service while receiving the allowance.
  4. Employees receiving an allowance must inform their supervisors promptly when they change their mobile numbers or can no longer be contacted via their mobile devices due to damage, loss or theft. 
  5. Employees receiving an allowance who wish to terminate their mobile services must inform their supervisors and Human Resources.  The allowance will end no later than the last date the employee retains mobile services.
  1. Departmental Responsibilities
    1. The department of an employee receiving a mobile device allowance will provide the necessary funding.
    2. Supervisors, department heads and Deans or Vice Presidents are responsible for an annual review of the business need for the employees receiving mobile device allowances and determining whether the agreements should be continued, changed or discontinued.
    3. The supervisor of an employee receiving a mobile device allowance will promptly notify Human Resources to discontinue the payment if the employee resigns, is terminated, transfers departments, or no longer qualifies for an institutional stipend.

III. Allowance Categories

  1. Basic Voice Service – The business need covered by the allowance is for the employee to send and receive voice calls only. 
  2. Extended Voice Service – The business need is for the employee to send and receive voice calls only, but the assumption is that the employee has high volume requirements beyond that provided by the minimum plan of the carrier.
  3. Basic Voice Service + Data Service – The job duties of the employee require both voice and data services, e.g. e-mail and web access. 
  4. Extended Voice Service  + Data Service – The job duties of the employee require both voice and data services, but the assumption is that the employee has high volume requirements beyond that provided by the minimum plan of the carrier.
  5. Data Service – The job duties of the employee require only that the employee have access to e-mail and web services from a mobile device.  Voice services are not required. 
  6. Messaging Service – The job duties of the employee require that the employee send and receive text, picture or video messages.  The allowance for messaging services will be added to other categories if necessary.
  7. Equipment – The University will assist employees in acquiring the mobile device needed to perform job duties. 
    1. For employees currently authorized to receive an allowance, the University will normally cover up to 50% of the replacement value of the equipment every two years.  The actual amount depends on the Allowance Category.   For example, an employee may wish to have a “smart” phone for personal reasons but be authorized for Basic Voice Service.  In this case, the University would cover the cost of replacing a basic cellular phone; the remainder of the cost would be covered by the employee.
    2. If an employee who does not own a device must purchase one to meet the business requirements of a job, the University will cover up to 50% of the cost of device. 
    3. If an employee already owns a device when first becoming eligible to receive an allowance, the employee will be entitled to receive University assistance for replacing the device beginning with the next date at which the device qualifies for a renewal discount from the vendor.   Future eligibility for replacement assistance from the University will be calculated from this date. 
    4. In the case of lost, damaged or stolen equipment during the performance of job functions, employees should contact their supervisors.  The University will contribute towards repair or replacement of the equipment.  If personally-owned equipment is lost, damaged or stolen outside the performance of University business, the employee is entirely responsible for replacement of the equipment.  However, to continue to receive an allowance, the employee must promptly replace the lost, damaged, or stolen equipment.
    5. Applications – The University will reimburse employees for mobile device applications they are required to install on their personally-owned equipment in order to perform their job functions.  The University will not contribute to the purchase of any other applications.
    6. Accessories – The University will not contribute to the purchase of accessories for personally-owned mobile devices.
    7. Additional Allowances – There may be rare circumstances when the stipend level must be adjusted due to extenuating circumstances, e.g. a phone being registered with the Federal Wireless Priority System.  The Vice President for Financial Affairs will approve such exceptions upon the recommendation of a Dean or Vice President.
    8. Maximum Allowance – In no case will the University extend an allowance to an employee greater than the total amount of the monthly bill paid by the employee.  In some instances, this may require adjusting the standard allowance downward.

IV. Mobile Devices Provided by Departments - In some circumstances, the University may provide mobile services and equipment for devices that are assigned to a department or a function rather than a specific individual.

  1. Usage – Mobile devices provided by departments are to be used exclusively for University business.
  2. Service and Equipment Procurement – The department head wishing to purchase such services should contact WITS.  A WITS staff person will arrange for the service, order the equipment and assist with set up.  When new service is ordered, WITS requires an account number from the responsible department.
  3. Billing – WITS will process the monthly invoices for payment and charge them to the responsible departments.
  4. Maintenance – WITS staff will assist the departments in maintaining departmental mobile equipment, installing application software, ordering upgrades, changing service plans, and troubleshooting problems.
  1. Guidelines for Mobile Device Use
    1. Institutional Benefit – The mobile device allowance agreement requires that the personally owned device be available for business access. An employee receiving an allowance must maintain active service.  Employees receiving the allowance agree to carry the device with them, keep it charged and in operational condition and be accessible for business use as required by supervisors.
    2. Personal Use – The allowance policy assumes that the mobile devices will be used for both personal and business reasons.  Since the stipend is taxable as income, the employee is not required to itemize business versus personal usage and provide detailed reports to the University.
    3. Appropriate Use – The employee agrees to use the mobile device in ways that are consistent with University policy and all applicable local, state and federal laws.  An employee receiving an allowance may not use the mobile device to harm or defame the University.  Unlawful or inappropriate use of the mobile device is prohibited and may result in loss of an allowance.
    4. Confidential Information – The data on mobile devices are typically unprotected and are easily available to anyone who gains access to the device.  For employees with devices that can receive e-mail messages, it may be difficult to control completely the presence of confidential information.  However, employees should attempt to keep the amount of confidential information on the device to a minimum.  Employees should periodically review the contents of address books or contact lists on their devices to ensure that confidential or personally identifiable information is not being retained unnecessarily.  It is strongly recommended that employees utilize a password or PIN on the device to protect the information stored on the device.
    5. Use of mobile devices while operating a vehicle – Employees using mobile devices for University business must operate them in accordance with state and municipal laws regarding the use of such equipment while driving.  The laws vary widely by location.  Wireless headsets or other devices that may be required to comply with such laws are the responsibility of the employee. 

Allowance Levels

 

Allowance Category

Allowance

Period

Basic Voice Service

$30

Monthly

Extended Voice Service

$50

Monthly

Basic Voice Service + Data Service

$60

Monthly

Extended Voice Service + Data Service

$80

Monthly

Data Service

$40

Monthly

Messaging Service

$5

Monthly

Equipment

Variable up to 50% of the cost of the device

Every 2 Years

Applications

Reimbursement for authorized applications

Variable

Accessories

$0

N/A

Additional Stipend

Variable on the approval of the Vice President for Financial Affairs

N/A

 

* In no case will the University extend an allowance to an employee greater than the total amount of the monthly bill paid by the employee.  In some instances, this may require adjusting the standard allowance downward.

Revised: July 25, 2011