This policy allows the University of Northern Iowa to compensate employees for the use of portable communication devices and internet service for University business in conformance with U.S. tax regulations.
The University of Northern Iowa recognizes employee’s performance of certain job responsibilities may require the use of portable communication devices. For the purpose of this policy, a “communication device” is defined as a cell phone or device that allows for two-way communication.
University employees may be given a predetermined amount of taxable supplemental compensation to cover the approximate monthly cost of the use of a communication device or internet service for the portion of University business use. The maximum monthly allowance amount will be reviewed annually and adjusted based upon a review of typical plans used by university staff and guidelines of federal and state agencies. The maximum monthly allowance amount will be listed on the Technology Allowance Form.
Departments and colleges may establish policies that are more restrictive, including compensation amount. The cost of the service is the responsibility of the employee’s department.
The guiding principle for eligibility is that the use of a communication device by an employee is for the benefit of the University, rather than for the convenience of the employee. The policy applies only to faculty and professional and scientific staff (P&S).
Faculty and P&S are eligible to receive an allowance, subject to approval of a dean or vice president (or designee), if they meet all of the following criteria:
1) the employee is required, as part of their job, to be readily accessible for frequent contact or critical contact with the public or with University administrators, faculty, staff, or students; and
2) the requirement of accessibility extends to time away from campus (at home or traveling), involves on-call responsibilities, or the employee’s job limits his or her access to regular land-line communication devices that would satisfy the required business communication needs; and
3) a strong business case can be made that supports the University incurring the cost of the service; and
4) acknowledge the personal device may be subject to open records request
The employee must retain an active data or cellular service contract as long as the allowance is in place. The employee agrees to notify the department head within 5 days if he or she no longer meets eligibility requirements, fails to replace non-working, damaged or lost communication devices, or fails to maintain a service plan.
Departments may authorize a one-time taxable payment, up to $100, to the employee through the payroll system not to exceed the actual documented costs of the equipment. When applicable, these types of reimbursements may not be made more than once every two years. In all cases, the employee assumes ownership and all maintenance responsibility for the equipment.
Certain units, such as transportation, maintenance personnel, custodians, information technology, public safety, may have special needs that justify a technology allowance or departmental ownership of cell phones and/or where phones are assigned or rotated among employees. Faculty and staff may qualify for only intermittent and temporary use of departmentally owned cell phones, when the department determines there is a valid, documented business need. Routine personal calls are not allowed on these departmentally owned cell phone contracts and are considered a violation of University policy.
Home Internet Service. The university will not reimburse employees incidental use of home internet/data access as it is assumed employees already have internet access and are not incurring additional cost due to university business use.
Pagers. It is recommended that departments pay for pagers directly, therefore eliminating the need for reimbursement of these expenses.
Exceptions. Employees who are not eligible for the allowance may submit a request for reimbursement for occasional, incremental business expenses. Incremental business expenses are those calls that result in additional costs above and beyond the employee’s normal calling plan (e.g., excess minutes, roaming charges). When requesting reimbursement, the expenses incurred must be substantiated with the business purpose and documented with a copy of the bill in accordance with University policy and with applicable federal and state laws and regulations. An example of a bona fide policy exception would be occasions where employees are traveling for University business and make calls to work that involve roaming charges. The University may reimburse those employees for their additional out-of-pocket roaming charges; such expenses should be treated as travel expenses and sought at the same time as other travel expense reimbursement.
International expenses. For employees who receive an allowance, this policy allows for reimbursement of incremental expenses incurred when international travel is involved for official business calls and data transfer. Such reimbursement should be treated as travel expenses and sought at the same time as other travel expense reimbursement.
To request the technology allowance complete the Technology Allowance Form on the Office of Business Operations website and return to: Office of Business Operations, Payroll. The completed form needs to be submitted prior to November 30 each year for the next calendar year. The form must be completed and submitted annually to continue receiving the technology allowance each year. Retroactive allowances are not allowed.
For additional questions or resources please refer to the Office of Business Operations website or contact Business Operations, Payroll at 273-6425
Office of Business Operations, approved April 3, 2017
President’s Cabinet, approved May 8, 2017
President and Executive Management Team, approved June 14, 2017