Mobile Communication Agreement & Procedures

No.   3-65  Rev.       Date  March 14, 2006     


If the university requires an employee to carry a cellular phone in order to perform his/her duties, the employee, with approval of the organization leader, will obtain a personal cellular access plan and cellular phone and will be compensated by the university within approved limits.  This compensation must be justified by business requirements which necessitate the use of a cellular telephone to perform official university business where such business cannot be accommodated by the use of a land-line phone, pager, or other communication device.  Approved procedures must be followed when providing compensation for this purpose. 

A.  Department managers must determine the business cellular communication needs of the employee.  Department needs should dictate the type of plan and level of service required.  Because the telephone is owned by the employee, it may be used for personal as well as business use, but must be available for the performance of responsibilities as designated by the manager.  In general, this means in possession of, and turned on during those times specified by the manager or supervisor.

The employee may obtain a more expensive plan if desired for personal use, but will only receive the compensation amount agreed upon for university business use.  Payment of bills for the cellular plan and device are the responsibility of the individual, not the department. 

B.  Department managers shall selected a monthly compensation allowance based on anticipated monthly university business use (see Addendum 1 for allowed compensation levels).  If business use results in a billed amount that is more than the allowance amount, reimbursement may be sought with appropriate documentation through regular expense reimbursement procedures (such as petty cash).  Monthly allowances received by the employee will be reported as taxable wages. 

C.  The department will contribute toward the activation of a cellular service plan and the purchase or upgrade of a communication device, if such purchase or upgrade is necessary for the performance of the employee's job duties.  The department may also contribute toward the replacement of aging or non-functioning devices, provided the employee's job responsibilities continue to require the use of a cellular device at the time of replacement. 

D.    All such compensations will be reported as taxable wages.  The employee will own the device.  Compensation for the purchase or upgrade of a communication device should be sufficient to purchase a device required for the performance of the employee's duties.  The employee may select a more expensive device but will not receive compensation in excess of what is required to perform his/her duties. 

E.  At the department's discretion, university departments may elect to purchase and provide "push-to-talk" mobile devices to faculty and staff.  This applies where specialized push-to-talk functionality that can be restricted to university communications only is required, and the devices by nature and function can be restricted to university business only.

In addition, with vice-presidential approval, departments may obtain a cellular phone and service plan for departmental use when the phone will not be specifically assigned to one individual.  These phones must be restricted to university business use only and a record of all calls, both incoming and outgoing, must be maintained documenting the individuals talked to and the university purpose.

Because the devices can be used for university communication only, the department will be responsible for the cost and contract obligations of the service plan.  In this case, the devices remain the property of the university and must be surrendered immediately to the department upon termination of employment or cessation of the department need. 

F.  Employees are expected to take reasonable care of their required cellular device.  If an employee's required cellular device is lost or destroyed through gross negligence, the employee may be required to replace it at their expense, per supervisor discretion. 

G.  Because the entire university compensation for the communication device and plan is treated as taxable income, no call detail documentation of personal or business calls is required. 

H.  The university compensation for the communication device and plan is not considered an entitlement, is not part of an employee's base salary, and may be changed and/or withdrawn by the university at any time.  It will be paid in semi-monthly installments from departmental funds as authorized by the department manager. 


A.  Departments are responsible to determine the budgetary impact of this program, and to determine whether or not an employee's job requires use of cellular service.  The university compensation for the purchase of personally owned services must be directly linked to the employee's job duties and responsibilities. 

B.  Department managers are responsible for determining and approving the appropriate compensation amount for an employee based on job responsibilities.  The determination should include the appropriate number of plan minutes, long distance calling options, data plans, and other plan features that are required for the performance of the employee's job responsibilities. 

C.  University compensation for employee-owned communication plans is not to be based on a particular title or position.  Use should be based on the actual job requirements of a faculty or staff member.

For example, an individual with a "Computer Administrator" title may perform their work entirely int he field and/or may be on call after hours.  Supervisors, with the approval of department heads, are responsible for determining when cellular services are warranted. 

D.  It is the department manager's responsibility to review cell phone needs in his or her department on at least an annual basis to determine if monthly compensation amounts should be changed or discontinued.  The department should notify Payroll immediately when any changes to compensation amounts are needed during the year by completing and processing a new Cellular Services Agreement form and PAR. 

E.  The employee and the manager/supervisor must sign a standard university agreement that:  (1) documents the business need for a cell phone, (2) outlines the requirements the employee will observe in obtaining a phone and service plan that meets department requirements, and (3) defines the conditions for making it available when needed (as defined by the department, e.g., for on-call use). 

F.  For employee owned devices and plans, copies of the approval forms/agreements used to process university compensation, as well as receipts or other valid evidence of purchase, shall be retained for four years. 

G.  Approval forms/agreements, proof of purchase and other documentation must be retained for internal or external audit purposes. 


A.  Departments and employees should, where possible, purchase telephone plans that are available from approved vendors participating in university, state, or regional (WSCA) contracts.  In most cases, contracted discounts are available to employees.  However, the employee discount amounts may vary, depending on the selected vendor.  Recommended service plans may be viewed on the WSU Telecommunications web site, including contact information for a mobile communication device specialist. 

B.  Notwithstanding III.A, an employee may purchase any communication device or service plan that meets the job requirements specified by the supervisor or department head, regardless of price.  However, the employee will be responsible for any additional expenses above the university compensation approved by the department.


A.  The employee is responsible for the selection of and enrollment in an appropriate communication service plan.  The plan must, at a minimum, cover the requirements identified by the supervisor and approved by the department head.  The employee may select service from any vendor whose service meets the requirements of the employee's job responsibilities as determined by the supervisor and approved by the department head. 

B.  An employee receiving university compensation for cellular service must provide his/her department with the phone and/or PDA number of the communication device within five (5) working days of activation. 

C.  The employee must be able to show when requested by their supervisor, that the monthly bill, including taxes and fees, is at least the amount of the university compensation.  If the monthly bills do not on average, equal or exceed the amount of the compensation, the supervisor may adjust the amount of the compensation to a lower amount or may discontinue the compensation for the employee's cellular service. 

D.  The employee is personally responsible for complying with any contract entered into with a communication service provider including payment of all expenses incurred (including long distance, roaming fees, and taxes).  In the event that an employee leaves the position, he/she continues to be responsible for the contractual obligations of the cellular service plan. 

E.  An employee receiving university compensation toward the purchase of cellular devices or services must notify his/her department head as soon as possible and in no case more than five (5) working days beyond inactivation of the communication service or loss or theft of the communication device. 


A.  If, prior to the end of the cell phone contract, a personal decision by the employee, or employee misconduct, or misuse of the phone, results in the need to end or change the cell phone contract, the employee will bear the cost of any fees associated with that change or cancellation.

For example, the employee quits, and no longer wants to retain the current cell phone contract for personal purposes.  In extenuating circumstances a department head may choose to waive this requirement. 

B.  If, prior to the end of the cell phone contract period, a university decision (unrelated to employee misconduct) results in the need to end or change the cell phone contract, the university will bear the cost of any fees associated with that change or cancellation.

For example, the employee's supervisor has changed the employee's duties and the cell phone is no longer needed for University purposes.  If the employee does not want to retain the current contract, change or cancellation fees will be reimbursed by the University. 


Addendum 1

April 19, 2006 

The allowed monthly compensation for mobile communication plans must be based on the requirements of the employee's position.  Amounts may be selected in $10 increments from $10 to $160.  The $10 dollar increment allows department managers to select a plan that most closely approximates actual business need.

Because the allowed monthly compensation is taxable, the actual amount that an employee receives will be less than the selected compensation amount.  A compensation amount (in $10 increments) should be selected which covers anticipated business use plus the additional taxes paid by the employee.  In most instances, an additional $20 above the cost of the plan will cover the additional taxes paid by the employee.