Memorandum 50 – Cellular Phone Policy

Reviewed and Approved February 2011

Purpose

This policy governs eligibility for a monthly allowance for employees who have a documented business need for a cellular phone. Norwich University will not own or otherwise provide cellular phones or services to its employees except as noted in this policy.

Policy

The IRS considers cellular phones to be “listed property.” As such, the IRS requires detailed record keeping that substantiates the business purpose of every call made on a cellular phone. All undocumented calls are declared personal use and must be taxed as wages. In order to avoid this onerous and burdensome record-keeping requirement, Norwich University will provide a taxable allowance for employees with a documented need for a cellular phone.

Responsibility

Affected cabinet members, supervisors, employees receiving a cellular phone allowance, ITS, and the accounting office are responsible for fulfilling this policy.

Implementation/Guidelines

Norwich University does not provide University-owned cell phones to employees, except as described below. Employees who are eligible for the cell-phone allowance will receive their monthly allowance with their next regularly scheduled payroll following the submission of an approved Cellular Phone Authorization & Reimbursement Form. Refer to the procedures accompanying this policy for guidance on securing a monthly allowance.

Exceptions

Employees who are on call outside of normal business hours and who have use of a shared department cellular phone are exempt from this policy. Use of a University-owned cellular phone is limited to University business only. Employees who are in multiple locations as part of their normal duties may elect an institutionally owed cellular phone for their use while at work.

Allowance Request

Employees will be notified if, based on the demands of their position, they are required to maintain and carry a cellular phone in order to increase their accessibility to the university. If a university employee’s duties include the need for a cellular phone, s/he is eligible for an allowance to help cover associated expenses. To receive such an allowance, the employee must complete and submit a Cellular Phone Authorization & Reimbursement Form. This form requires the approval of the employee’s supervisors and cabinet member. The following may serve as a guideline to identify an employee’s need for a cellular phone:

  1. Travel – Employees who frequently travel and need to be available to communicate with university associates or constituents at any and all times while traveling on University business.
  2. Work Location – Employees who typically work in the field or who have multiple job-site locations where access to standard communication devices is not available during normal business hours.
  3. Other – Employees whose job responsibilities require them to be accessible at all times during both business hours and non-business hours and who have no other means of accessibility.

Supervisors are responsible for an annual review of employee business-related cell phone use to determine if existing allowances should be continued, changed, or discontinued. Cellular phones should not be selected as an alternative to other means of communication, such as land-lines, pagers, and radio phones when such alternatives would provide adequate but less costly service. These alternative methods will be provided at no cost to the employee.

Plan Allowance

Employees are responsible for contracting with a cellular phone service provider, for paying for any initial plan charges, for the purchase of the phone itself, and for paying the plan’s monthly bills. Norwich will pay an initial allowance of up to $65 for the purchase of the cellular phone and $300 for a data service with voice device. An employee is eligible to purchase a new phone/device every 36 months. Norwich will pay a flat-rate monthly allowance, independent of the cell phone provider selected by the employee. The monthly amount will be determined by the official authorizing the allowance after considering the expected business use per month. Authorization for a monthly allowance must be renewed annually in May, and the appropriateness of the allowance and its level reconsidered at that time. Allowances will be paid as miscellaneous additions to the employee’s regular paycheck and are subject to FICA and income tax withholding. The allowance is not considered part of the employee’s salary and will not be used to compute any type of salary increase or benefit accrual.

Plan Cancellation

If, prior to the end of the cell phone contract period, a departmental decision (unrelated to employee misconduct) results in the need to end or change the cellular phone contract, the department will bear the cost of any fees associated with that change or cancellation, provided the contract, when entered into, did not exceed one year. For example, the employee’s supervisor changes the employee’s job duties, and the cellular phone is no longer needed for business purposes: If the employee does not want to retain the current contract, cancellation fees will be reimbursed by the department. If the employee is reassigned duties or is terminated because of misconduct, the employee will bear the cost of any fees associated with the change or termination of the contract.

Documentation and Review Requirements

From time to time the employee may be asked to provide copies of their monthly cellular phone bills. This is particularly likely during the annual re-authorization process. Review of a sample of not fewer than four monthly cellular phone bills will substantiate that the monthly bill is at least the amount of the net university contribution and ensures compliance with federal regulations. Failure to provide requested documentation will result in termination of eligibility for the cell-phone allowance.

Employee Agreements

Employees receiving this allowance agree to provide the cellular phone number to their supervisor, be accessible by the phone during the employee’s work schedule, accept all financial responsibility for the cellular phone and service contract, provide statements upon request for periodic review, not use cellular telephones to conduct the business of the University while operating a motor vehicle, and agree to obey any and all federal and state laws and regulations regarding the use of cellular phones. A signed agreement is part of the Cellular Phone Authorization & Reimbursement Form and must be completed and approved in order to receive an allowance.

Cellular Phone Authorization & Reimbursement Form (PDF)

Cellular Phone or Personal Communication Device Allowance Procedures

Employees are notified if, based on their position requirements, they are required to maintain and carry a cell phone or other personal communication device in order to increase their accessibility to the University. The University will provide an allowance to cover associated expense incurred by the employee.

Summary of Process for Determining Eligibility for and Receiving the Allowance

  1. Department supervisor and cabinet member determine the employee’s need for a cellular phone, the anticipated monthly business usage, and appropriate allowance.
  2. The employee, supervisor, and cabinet member complete the Cellular Phone Authorization & Reimbursement Form (PDF). The form is also available outside of the Human Resources Office, Jackman 322.
  3. The completed form is sent to Human Resources. The allowance will be included in the next possible payroll.
  4. The form must be resubmitted annually, during the month of May, for continuation into the next fiscal year.

Contact Offices

  • ITS Help Desk: Ext. 2456
  • Accounting Office: Ext. 2045

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