Cell Phone Policy
To establish policy and guidelines for providing either a wireless communications device and service, or a stipend to cover the business use of a personal cell phone, to employees who have documented an official SUNY Poly business need for a communications device and continue to meet this need under the terms of this policy. Cellular telephones are a valuable resource for campus staff and faculty in the performance of certain duties by providing immediate accessibility. This policy establishes a guide for employees who, by the nature of their work, routinely use mobile communication devices in the performance of their job.
Based on job responsibilities, eligible employees may qualify for a wireless communications device. The Vice President for Administration, Provost, or President is responsible for determining employee eligibility. Employees who are not eligible may be reimbursed, with department approval, for occasional SUNY Poly-related use of a personal cell phone. (Occasional use is defined as calls that result in additional costs that are beyond the employee’s normal calling plan, i.e., excess minutes, roaming charges, etc.) Eligible employees have the option of either participating in the SUNY Poly corporate plan covering appropriate equipment and service, or receiving a stipend to cover the business use of a personal cell phone. Participating employees wishing to change from either option to the other may do so with the permission of their supervisor.
Monthly Service Stipend
For those employees who choose the stipend option, SUNY Poly will annually review and establish stipend amounts. All stipends and associated costs are charged to the employee’s departmental budget. The stipend will reimburse the employee $25.00 for the business use of the phone. The amount can be changed or withdrawn by SUNY Poly without notice at any time. SUNY Poly is not responsible for any additional costs associated with the cell phone, for example, shipping, taxes, insurance, accessories, overages, etc. Discounts are available for SUNY Poly faculty and staff personal accounts.
Employees receiving a cell phone stipend are responsible for obtaining a phone and monthly plan that, at a minimum, meet the level of service required by the department. Because the employee owns the cell phone, it may be used for personal and business use, but must be available for the performance of responsibilities as designated by the department and within policy. The employee may obtain a more expensive plan if needed for personal use, but will only receive the amount agreed upon for business use. Bills for the cellular plan and device are the responsibility of the individual. An employee with a cell phone stipend must maintain an active cell phone contract for the duration of the stipend.
The employee approved to receive a stipend will receive it within their payroll check via SUNY Poly’s reimbursement procedures.
There may be rare circumstances where the stipend amount must be adjusted due to special departmental needs. The Vice President for Administration, Provost, or President must approve any exceptions to the standard stipend amounts designated by SUNY Poly.
SUNY Poly contributions for employee-purchased services and devices are not to be based on a particular title or position. Approved stipend amounts will be based on the actual job requirements of the individual faculty or staff member. Approval for a SUNY Poly cell phone stipend must be based on a valid, university-related need and meet at least one of the following criteria.
- On-Call availability: Employee is required to be on call a majority of the time to be contacted in the event of an emergency or service need.
- Frequent mobility: The job requires considerable time outside the office during working hours and it is imperative to the functioning of SUNY Poly that the employee be immediately accessible to receive and/or make frequent business calls during those times.
- After hours availability: The job requires the employee to be immediately accessible to receive and/or make frequent business calls outside of working hours. Employee must be readily accessible due to the specific nature of their duties and must be available for emergency responses or time sensitive consultation after normal office hours.
- Departmental eligibility criteria can be more (but not less) restrictive than the above criteria.
- In accordance with Internal Revenue Service requirements, where employers for substantial noncompensatory business reasons require employees to maintain and use their personal cell phone for business purposes and reimburse the employees for the business use, the stipend is excludable from an employee’s income. However, cell phones and stipends cannot be excluded from an employee’s wages if provided to promote goodwill, boost morale, or attract prospective employees (not substantial business reasons).
Recipients of a SUNY Poly cell phone stipend have the following responsibilities:
- Purchase cellular phone service and equipment and assume responsibility for vendor terms and conditions. The employee can select any service provider, plan, and features that meet the requirements of the job responsibilities as specified by the supervisor and approved by the budget manager that, at a minimum, meet the level of plan and services that the stipend is intended to cover.
- Plan choices, calling areas, service features, termination clauses, and all charges associated with the cellular service and device.
- Purchase, repair, maintain, insure, and/or replace phone equipment and accessories, including lost, damaged, or stolen equipment and accessories.
- Ensure the carrier selected has service in required usage areas, such as on campus and/or at home as required by the department.
- Establish himself/herself as the billing party. Regardless of cost, the employee is responsible for any additional expenses above the SUNY Poly contribution.
- Maintain an active service contract for the duration of the stipend.
- Notify the SUNY Poly budget manager within 5 working days if eligibility criteria are no longer met, if service is cancelled, or when a phone number, carrier, or plan eligibility changes.
- Provide a copy of the cellular billing statement upon request.
- Request a stipend renewal from the employee’s department at the end of each fiscal year.
The employee’s budget manager and Vice President for Administration, Provost, or President are responsible for an annual review of the business need for a cell phone stipend and determining whether the agreement needs to be changed, renewed, or discontinued. Prior to each fiscal year, a request form must be completed by the budget manager, approved by the Vice President for Administration, Provost, or President, and submitted, along with a copy of the most recent billing statement, to Human Resources in order to continue the stipend. A copy of the completed request form must be kept on file in the employee’s department.
Change or Cancel Existing Stipend
If the employee resigns, is terminated, transfers departments, changes job duties, no longer requires cell phone services, or otherwise no longer qualifies for an institutional stipend, the employee’s budget manager is responsible for submitting a revised request form to Human Resources. A copy of the approved, revised request must be kept on file with the department. Human Resources will also keep approved request forms on file and available for internal or external audit. In the event that an employee leaves the position, he/she continues to be responsible for the contractual obligations of the cellular service plan.
Equipment and Service Exceptions
Under its corporate plan, SUNY Poly will provide eligible employees who choose the corporate option with appropriate wireless equipment and service. Any employee on SUNY Poly’s corporate plan wishing to use the SUNY Poly-issued cell phone for both business and personal use may, if they choose, account for half of the cost of the monthly service by paying SUNY Poly $25 per month. Individual departments shall not purchase cellular phones or cellular service. There are limited circumstances under which a department can own a phone, service contract, and/or a landline. Requests must go through the approval process, and service and equipment must be obtained through the Purchasing Associate. For all SUNY Poly-owned cell phones and services, departments must ensure that cell phone use is documented and that phones are used for SUNY Poly business only or employees must reimburse SUNY Poly for the personal calls. At the discretion of SUNY Poly, a department may be permitted to continue purchasing cell phones and service where the phone is used only for SUNY Poly business purposes in the following situations:
- Shared department cell phone: Arrangement involving multiple individuals sharing one cell phone that does not leave the campus and is turned in by each employee at the end of his/her shift. This phone must be used for business purposes only. Phone log documentation is required.
- On call department cell phone: Used for business purposes only, this arrangement involves multiple individuals who take turns being on call and share one phone. Phone log documentation is required. Exceptions for such phones should be approved by the Vice President for Administration, Provost, or President, based on the recommendation of the budget manager for the employee’s respective department. For SUNY Poly-owned devices, SUNY Poly will provide cell phone service and equipment. The Purchasing Associate will arrange for service and phone equipment, process the carrier invoices for payment, and bill the department for all service and equipment associated with their lines. Billing summary statements for monthly service charges are forwarded to the budget manager.
Smartphones and Data Plan Eligibility
Some positions may necessitate that an employee is able to regularly send and receive time-sensitive SUNY Poly e-mail remotely, where computer access is not adequate for this purpose. For those employees participating in the stipend option to be eligible for an additional data plan stipend, the amount of which would be determined according to need in consultation with the supervisor, the employee must have a smartphone, and the equipment and plan must allow syncing with corporate e-mail, calendar, and contacts.
Eligibility for a data plan stipend is based on the following:
- Real-time decision making and SUNY Poly responsiveness are of an urgent nature and must be accomplished through e-mail.
- Real time communications/responses by e-mail are required when traveling, off campus, away from the office, or after hours.
- Since smartphones may be storing and transferring critical SUNY Poly data while connected to the Internet, all SUNY Poly Policies are applicable and will be enforced.
- The level of support from IT for smartphones is limited to documentation provided for connecting to SUNY Poly e-mail, calendar, and contacts.
For those choosing the stipend option, the employee is responsible for the purchase, repair, maintenance, loss, damage, insurance, and/or replacement of phone equipment and accessories. As the employee purchases new equipment, employees must return any borrowed SUNY Poly equipment and accessories to their departments, if applicable.
Unsafe Use of Cell Phone
New York State law includes an absolute ban on the use of hand-held cell phones for voice or text messaging while driving. Use of cell phones while driving a State-owned vehicle, including Global Electric Motorcars (GEMs), is prohibited and may result in loss of driving privileges and/or discipline.