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Wireless Communication Devices/Telecommunications

Unique-Purchasing-Payments

View Official Policy: Wireless Communication Devices Telecommunications Policy

Policy Statement 

Section 1 – Wireless Communication Devices 

University departments have the following options for providing employees with wireless communication devices and related services. Utilization of these options must be for the benefit of the University, rather than the convenience of the employee

Option 1:  University Provided Devices and Service 

1a) The University will purchase devices and related usage/service plans for assigned employee use in the following circumstances: 

1b) The University will also purchase mobile/wireless devices/cellular telephones/pagers/two-way radios and other communication devices and related services used in the normal course of business. These purchases include:

 

Approval to purchase these devices rests within the unit’s regular purchasing processes. These devices and their related service plans are primarily for official business purposes. Personal use should be infrequent (emergencies or extenuating circumstances) and charges incurred as a result of this use should be reimbursed to the University as outlined in the Procedures section.

 

For all purchases included in Option 1, the University owns the device and will directly contract with a provider to purchase software/applications and any applicable usage/service plans. The University will not enter into a usage/service contract for personally owned devices. For all purchases included in Option 1, University departments must:

The IRS has issued guidance to clarify the tax treatment of employer-provided cell phones. Notice 2011-72 provides that in the case of an employee's use of an employer-provided cell phone for reasons related to the employer's trade or business, the IRS will treat such use as a working condition fringe benefit, the value of which is excludable from the employee's income.

The cell phone must be issued primarily for non-compensatory business reasons, such as the employer's need to contact the employee at all times for work-related emergencies, or the employer's requirement that the employee be available to speak with clients at times when the employee is away from the office or outside the employee's normal work schedule.

If this standard is met, then any personal use (i.e. emergency/extenuating circumstances since University-provided devices are primarily for business use) of the employer-provided cell phone will be treated as a de minimis fringe benefit, excludable from the employee's gross income. The IRS will not require recordkeeping of business use in order to receive this tax-free treatment. Cell phones provided for employee morale, recruiting, or additional compensation are not considered to be provided for qualifying business purposes. Therefore, cell phones provided for such purposes would not be exempt from the burdensome recordkeeping requirements and would not be considered tax-free. 

Option 2: Reimbursement for Business Use of Personal Devices 

Faculty and staff with infrequent business communication needs other than outlined in Option 1 who utilize a personally-owned device may request reimbursement of business use of their personal device. It is recommended that faculty and staff with regular business communication needs be provided a University owned device and those with infrequent business use of a personal device submit for reimbursement when necessary. 

According to IRS document IR-2011-93 (9/14/2011), employees who use their personal cell phones primarily for non-compensatory business reasons may treat reimbursements of expenses for reasonable cell phone use as nontaxable. This treatment does not apply to unusual or excessive expenses. 

Right to Monitor Communications and Open Records 

The University reserves the right to investigate, retrieve, read, or listen to any communication or data composed, transmitted or received through the University’s voice services, its online connections, and/or stored on its servers and/or property, without further notice to employees, to the maximum extent permissible by law. Express notice to employees stating that there is no right to privacy for any use of University telecommunications equipment and services should be included in the approval form for University-provided devices and services. Information stored on wireless communication devices which is prepared and maintained or received in the performance of a service or function by or on behalf of the University is public information and may be subject to disclosure under the Georgia Open Records Act.

Criteria for Determining Need

The cognizant unit head shall determine if a) dedicated internet or other service plan access or b) partial reimbursement of internet/other service plan is necessary for an employee to perform his or her duties.

The cognizant unit head may approve dedicated internet access or other service plans for an employee in those instances where the duties and responsibilities of an employee warrant dedicated University-use of such access. Such access should be for the benefit of the employer and used for authorized University business purposes. An inventory of approved internet access to be paid directly by the University shall document the employee’s name and address, the internet service provider, the justification for access, and the authorized uses of such access. Such inventory must be reviewed annually, kept current and made available for inspection by auditors, authorized offices or agencies.

Reimbursement to employees for partial business related internet access or other service plan access will be for 50% of the monthly access fee (excluding taxes and other charges) or $20 per month, whichever is less.

 

Responsibilities

The employee’s supervisor is responsible for determining eligibility under this policy and to recommend to cognizant approval levels the appropriate option for providing wireless communications service to employees. Each department head and the related business manager is responsible for ensuring that these policies and procedures are implemented and carried out within their respective department and/or organizational structure.

Date Issued: 01/01/2016

Last Reviewed/Updated: