Mobile Phone Policy

Revision Date:2015-03-23

Revision Number:3.0

Policy Information:

1.0 Revision History

Original Effective Date: March 1, 2008
Revision Effective Date: March 23, 2015
Revision Number: 3

2.0 Purpose

Establish a policy for cell phone use and compensation allowance.

3.0 Definitions

Cell Phone: commercial wireless phone service (mobile, cellular, or digital)

4.0 Applicability

This policy applies to staff and faculty who are authorized to use a cell phone and/or associated wireless services for university business and who receive compensation from the university to offset the cost of the cell phone for business-related calls or who receive a university-provided cell phone.

5.0 Policy 

Employees whose job requires them to use a cell phone for University business, as outlined in this policy, may use a personal cell phone service for business use and will be eligible to receive a monthly allowance for that service and an allowance for the purchase of the cell phone. Employees who receive an allowance which includes text capabilities will be required to register for alert text messages via the NAU Alert system. Employees may elect to use a university-provided cell phone in lieu of receiving compensation for using a personal cell phone. 

5.1 Cell Phone Allowance

A. Eligibility for Cell Phone Allowance
  1. The cell phone allowance must be approved by the employee’s supervisor, dean/director, and Vice President.
  2. The university may provide a cell phone allowance to an employee if at least one of the following criteria is met:
    1. The job requires considerable time outside the office (travel, meetings, conferences, etc.) and use of the cell phone facilitates the effective conduct of business operations while away.
    2. The job requires the employee to be immediately accessible to receive and/or make frequent business calls outside of working hours.
    3. Job duties away from the office may expose the employee or others to immediate harm or danger (e.g., visits to homes of patients or clients).
  3. The allowance will be charged to an account specified by the employee’s supervisor, who must ensure availability of funding. Departmental eligibility criteria can be more (but not less) restrictive than the university criteria stated above. No cell phone allowance for cell phone equipment will be paid with grant restricted funding. Departmental purchase of a university cell phone plan for service is an option for grant funded employees (see section 5.2 of this policy).
B. Cell Phone Allowance Amount
  1. The monthly cell phone allowances are shown in Table A of Appendix A of this policy. The cell phone allowance is considered taxable income to the employee by the Internal Revenue Service. The allowance is intended to reimburse the employee for the average business use of the cell phone, not to pay the entire phone bill. The amount of the allowance should be commensurate with the requirement for business use and should be reviewed periodically by management for change in amount or cancellation.
  2. The university will assist with paying the purchase cost of a cell phone device once every three years according to Table B in Appendix A of this policy. This allowance is also taxable income to the employee. Employees must show a bill or purchase receipt for their cell phone in order to receive this allowance. The employee can choose a cell phone with more features and pay the difference if he/she chooses. The cell phone will belong to the employee, not to the university. The university will not pay for activation fees or insurance.
    1. Generally, an employee will not be reimbursed for the purchase of a new cell phone during their first six months of employment. An exception to this rule can be made by a Vice President.
    2. All employees are subject to paying back their cell phone purchase reimbursement if they leave within the first year of employment. The recovered amount will be prorated based on the actual amount of time employed.
  3. Eligibility for the allowance or the level of the allowance provided is subject to change or cancellation as determined by the employee’s supervisor.
  4. The monthly and phone purchase allowances are not considered part of base pay used for calculating percentage salary increases. The monthly phone allowances are considered wages for the purposes of retirement plan contributions.
  5. Supervisors may periodically request that the employee provide a copy of the first page of the phone bill in order to verify that he/she has an active cell phone plan. Supervisors may also periodically request documentation of business use to determine the appropriateness of eligibility and level of the allowance amount.
C. Employee Responsibilities
  1. Sign the Cell Phone Allowance Request form thereby certifying that he/she will provide the phone number within five days of activation and will be available for calls (in possession of the phone and have it turned on) during those times specified by management. 
  2. Select any cell phone carrier whose service meets the requirements of the job responsibilities as determined by his/her supervisor.
  3. Inform the university to discontinue the allowance when the eligibility criteria are no longer met or when the cell service is cancelled. If such notification is not submitted within 30 days of no longer meeting criteria or service cancellation, the employee must repay any allowance received. 
  4. Pay all charges on his/her personal cell phone plan. If the employee leaves the position, he/she continues to be responsible for the contractual obligations of his/her cell phone plan. Early termination fees will be paid by departments if the employee leaves the university after one year of service and the plan is over and above what his/her normal personal plan requires. Documentation from the cell phone provider of early contract cancellation and applicable fees must be provided for this reimbursement.
  5. Comply with applicable laws regarding the use of cell phones while driving and avoid cell phone use that may jeopardize the safety of the employee or others
  6. Acknowledge that cell phone transmissions are not secure and that employees should use discretion in relaying confidential information over cell phones.
D. Implementation Rules and Procedures

Implementation rules and procedures, along with frequently asked questions, are shown on the NAU Mobile Devices webpage.

5.2 University-provided Cell Phones

A. Eligibility and Record Keeping
  1. With the approval of a Vice President, the university may purchase cell phones and pay for service in certain limited circumstances—e.g., phones that rotate among bus drivers, on-call staff, or maintenance personnel. No personal calls are allowed on university-provided cell phones. University provided cell phones should generally not be assigned to a specific individual. These university-provided cell phones and service will be purchased by using a University Purchasing Card. All equipment purchased remains the property of the university. Calling plans must be on a state contract and current plans are listed at the NAU Mobile Devices webpage. No long term contracts over one year may be purchased through a purchasing card.
  2. University-provided Cell Phone Request forms must be approved by the employee’s supervisor, dean/director, and Vice President.
  3. The submitting department must keep the approved University-provided Cell Phone Request form on file and available for review and/or audit. All cell phone invoices must be kept with the monthly purchasing card documentation.
  4. Supervisors or their designee must review the monthly bills of university-provided cell phones to ensure that no personal calls were made. Inadvertent or emergency personal calls must be reimbursed to the university at the rate of $.30 per minute plus long distance and roaming charges.
B. Employee Responsibility
  1. Employees shall comply with applicable laws regarding the use of cell phones while driving and avoid cell phone use that may jeopardize the safety of the employee or others.  Such use may include texting, emailing, or verbal communication.
  2. Employees working on federally funded projects are prohibited from text messaging while driving a government owned vehicle, or while driving their own privately owned vehicle during official business, or from using government-supplied electronic equipment to text message or email when driving.
  3. It is generally recognized that cell phone transmissions are not secure. Employees must use discretion in relaying confidential or sensitive information over cell phones.

5.3 Cell Phone Support – By Type

  1. Users who are authorized to obtain a regular cell phone must obtain technical support from the vendor providing the phone.
  2. Users who are authorized to use a Smart phone and wish to utilize ITS technical support for email or calendar integration, must choose a provider and phone shown on the following ITS website. Support for the cell phone portion of these types of devices must obtain technical support from the vendor providing the phone.

5.4 Miscellaneous

Both the nature of electronic communications and the public character of the University may make certain cell phone uses less private than users may anticipate. As such, employees should be aware that federal and state laws and University policies, guidelines, and regulations may limit the protection of certain aspects of individual privacy in connection with the use of a cell phone under this policy. For example, in certain circumstances, the University may permit the inspection, monitoring or disclosure of phone records and text messages, consistent with applicable laws, by University personnel or law enforcement officers.  The University and its employees may be required to disclose phone records, text messages, and other electronic data and documents pursuant to the Arizona public records laws or court order.

Changes to this policy will be authorized by approval of the President upon recommendation of the President’s Cabinet. Questions or comments about this policy should be directed to NAU's Chief Information Technology Officer, 928-523-9998.

Appendix A: Cell Phone Allowances as of March 23, 2015

Table A: Cell Phone Allowance (includes vendor 15% discount)

Monthly Allowance
Voice & Text
Up to $20
Voice, text & email / data$50

Table B: Cell Phone Purchase Allowance

Phone Purchase AllowanceOne-time amount every three years upon purchase of new phone)
Any mobile phone (includes protective
Half of cost up to $150

Policy Documents: