HBP Part 9.1.5. Communication Device Allowance

Handbook of Business Procedures

Date published: February 1, 2008
Last revised: February 26, 2019
Issued by: Payroll Services

9.1.5. COMMUNICATION DEVICE ALLOWANCE

A. Introduction

The University of Texas at Austin recognizes that the performance of certain job responsibilities may be enhanced by the provision of communication devices and services. For purposes of this policy, a communication device is defined as a cell phone or personal digital assistant (PDA) that allows for two-way communication. A communication service is defined as the plan providing for operation of a communication device and/or an Internet Service Provider (ISP). This policy establishes methods for making a communication device and its operation available to employees and/or reimbursing for ISP costs if the job requires that they be able to connect to the campus network to perform duties from an alternate work location.

B. Acquisition of Communication Devices

1. University-owned Devices

A department may elect to acquire and provide a communication device to an employee whose job duties, in the opinion of the department head, necessitate the provision of such a device. A communication device acquired by a department and provided to an employee is considered to be university property and will be used by the employee for university business purposes. Personal use of university-owned devices are allowed in accordance with Section 5.2 of The University of Texas at Austin’s Information Resources Use and Security Policy.

2. Employee-owned Devices

A department may elect to monetarily contribute to the employee's purchase and operation of a communication device and/or ISP when such employee’s job duties, in the opinion of the department head, necessitate the provision of such a device and/or service. Per University policy, direct reimbursements to individuals and/or charges to a university account for communication charges for these expenses outside the allowance process are not allowed. Instead, the monetary contribution should be provided in one or both of the following forms:

  • Communication Device Allowance—An Allowance provided via Workday to provide a monthly supplement for the operation of a communication device and/or ISP. The supplement is provided to the employee for as long as the employee’s department head determines that he or she qualifies under this policy.
     
  • Communication Device Payment—A One-Time Payment provided via Workday to provide a periodic monetary contribution toward the employee’s personal acquisition of a communication device and payment of initial activation fees. A communication device payment may be paid only once every two years.

A communication device acquired by this method is considered to be the personal property of the employee and accordingly may be used in any way the employee deems appropriate. Any service contract the employee enters into regarding the acquisition or operation of a communication device or ISP acquired by this method is personal to the employee. The university will have no obligation or make any guarantees with respect to such service contracts.

C. Departmental Responsibilities

The department head is responsible for the following:

  • Determining whether the employee’s position requires a communication device/service based on his or her job duties and responsibilities;
  • Determining which of the allowed acquisition methods is most appropriate to an employee requiring a communication device/service (see section B of this policy for information about acquisition methods); and
  • Determining the source of funds to be used to pay for a communication device/service.

If the communication device is to be owned by the university (see section B.1. of this policy), the department head is additionally responsible for the following:

  • Ensuring that the phone is provided to the employee for business purposes.
  • Ensuring the phone is provided for non-compensatory reasons in accordance with federal working condition fringe benefit rules.

If the communication device is to be owned by the employee (see section B.2 of this policy), the department head is additionally responsible for the following:

  • Determining the appropriate monthly communication service allowance for the employee within the monthly allowance amounts approved and published by the university (see section E of this policy for information about allowance rates); and
  • Initiating the Communication Device Allowance in Workday via the Request Compensation business process, and initiating the Communication Device Payment no more than once every two years, via the Request One Time Payment method in Workday.

Section 9.2.9.B
 

D. Employee Responsibilities

1. University-owned Devices

Employees are responsible for the following:

  • Ensuring that the device is primarily used for university business. Personal use of the phone should be both infrequent and non-routine. The university also recognizes that there may be emergency or extenuating circumstances under which the phone is needed for personal use. Those occasions should be rare and non-routine in nature.
  • Ensuring the physical protection of the device from damage and unauthorized use; and
  • Ensuring that the device is returned to the university when it is no longer needed or the employee terminates employment with the department.

2. Employee-owned Devices

Employees are responsible for the following:

  • Paying all amounts due as agreed between the employee and communication device or Internet service provider;
  • Providing the university department with the current access number or address of the communication device within five working days of activation; and
  • Notifying the department head within five working days of inactivation of the device or ISP. An employee is prohibited from continuing to collect a monthly communication service allowance when the device or ISP is no longer active or needed for the performance of the employee’s job responsibilities.

E. Communication Device Allowances and Communication Device Payments

The monthly allowances and one time payments for communications devices paid to the employee are considered taxable compensation and accordingly are subject to required tax withholdings. Payment of such taxes incurred is the responsibility of the employee and shall not be reimbursed to the employee by the university. A communication allowance 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. These payments are not subject to retirement deductions.

1. Communication Device Allowance

a. Communication Device Allowance Rates

The University Purchasing Office periodically determines the allowance rate for the acquisition and activation of communication devices. The rate is determined based on estimates of current market acquisition and activation fee costs multiplied by approximately 50 percent. Such amounts are not intended to fully reimburse the employee for the total out-of-pocket costs of acquisition and activation given that the device is expected to be owned by the employee and used for both personal and business use.

The current Communication Device Allowance rates are $30, $60, or $90 per month.

Purchasing Office

b. Communication Device Allowance Method and Provisions

Approved Communication Device Allowances will be provided to employees as monthly salary supplements. A department must establish the monthly Communication Allowance in Workday using the Request Compensation business process.

c. Restrictions

An employee receiving a monthly communication device allowance from The University of Texas at Austin may not receive an allowance for the same or similar device or service from another department of the university or another component institution of The University of Texas System. Direct reimbursements to individuals for these expenses outside the allowance process are also not allowed.

A monthly Communication Device Allowance may be established at any time during a fiscal year and may be changed or withdrawn at any time for any reason by the department head.

Payroll Services

 

2. Communication Device Payments

a. Communication Device Payment Rates

The university Director of Procurement and Payment Services will periodically determine the monthly communication service allowance rates for the operation of communication devices. The allowances will be determined based on cost estimates of current market service plans multiplied by approximately 50 percent. Such amounts are not intended to fully reimburse the employee for their total monthly out-of-pocket costs given that the device is expected to be used by the employee for both personal and business use.

The current Communication Device Payment rate is $100.

Purchasing Office

b. Communication Device Payment Method and Provisions

An employee may receive a Communication Device Payment only once every two years. Departments should process such payments in accordance with this schedule by initiating a One Time Payment in Workday. 

Payroll Services

3. Budgeting

During annual budget planning, department heads should evaluate the ability to continue to provide Communication Device Allowances and Communication Device Payments in the context of its overall budget.

4. Funding

State funds may be used for communication device allowances and payments. Restricted funds that specifically prohibit such allowances may not be used.

 

 

Part 9. Expenditure Procedures - Table of Contents