Wireless Device Policy

Month/Year Posted: 
November, 2011
Policy Number: 


This policy applies to all state and self-supporting operations, except the separate campus 501(c)3 auxiliary organizations which include the University Center, Sponsored Programs Foundation, Advancement Foundation and Associated Students.   The auxiliary organizations have their own governing boards which set policy for their organization.   This process applies to employees who have been required by the University to carry a wireless device so as to be available to the University while away from campus and/or to use a wireless device as an integral tool in performing their assigned duties. Examples of wireless communication devices are cell phones and personal digital assistants.    The decision of whether an employee is required to be available while away from campus and use a wireless device is decided by the President or Vice President, or his or her administrative designee. The administrator will complete a mandatory authorization form titled Authorization for Business-Related Wireless Device,” which provides specific information concerning the required usage.    

Compliance with Tax Law

Under the tax regulations, the IRS will treat the employee’s business use of employer-provided cell phones as a working condition fringe benefit, the value of which is excludable from the employee’s income. In addition, when an employee’s personal wireless device is used in connection with the employer’s business, the business may provide a reimbursement to the employee as long as: (1) there is a substantial business reason for requiring the employee’s use of the personal wireless device; (2) the reimbursement is reasonably calculated so as not to exceed expenses the employee actually incurred in maintaining the cell phone; (3) the reimbursement for business use is not a substitute for a portion of the employee’s regular wages; and (4) the employee maintains the type of coverage that is reasonably related to the needs of the employer’s business. If these conditions are met, the reimbursement is excludable from the employee’s income.  


For those employees who have been assigned to carry a wireless device, the University offers several options. The decision regarding which option to use will be determined collaboratively between the employee and his or her administrator. However, if an agreement cannot be reached, the default will be the University-owned device (Option One) which shall be issued on a shift-by-shift basis, and prohibits personal use.  

Option One: University-owned Device

  • The use of the device is for business use only. University-owned devices should not be used for personal reasons, as this may result in cancellation of the service and return of the device.

  • The employee and administrator will need to document the issuance of the asset, whether purchased by the university or donated to the university. Submit the form titled “University-Owned Wireless Devices.” 

  • Monthly statements will be reviewed by the employee’s administrator, who will forward an invoice-approving document to Accounts Payable. Submit the form titled University-Owned Wireless Devices.”  

Option Two: Personally-owned Device with Ongoing Usage

All wireless devices under this option are the personal property of the employee. Obtaining or changing service provider plans for personal use are the employee’s responsibility. In addition, the employee will retain the phone number if he or she separates from the University.  

The expense reimbursement is not reportable as taxable income to the employee, as long as the employee meets the IRS conditions as stated in the “Compliance with Tax Law” paragraph above. The University-paid reimbursement is used to defray the cost of the use of the wireless device for University business, and is not necessarily intended to cover the full cost of the employee’s service plan. Each employee retains the reimbursement and is not obligated to refund the reimbursement to the University if employee separates, changes job duties, or transfers to a new position.

  • The University will provide an expense reimbursement for/toward (a) acquisition of the device and (b) for/toward service fees. The maximum amounts of the reimbursements are determined by the administrator from the HSU Wireless Device-Plan Fees schedule, based on the administrator’s estimate of the amount of expected campus-required usage to meet the business need. In addition, the administrator may also consider past, comparable, and expected wireless usage for the employee’s position. However, the actual reimbursement will not be more than the annual cost of the employee’s service plan and/or the biennial cost of the device acquisition.

  •  If the employee disagrees with the amount, he or she may propose an alternative allowance and discuss reasons with the administrator.   The allowance amount may be adjusted or the administrator may requisition a University-owned device, as detailed in Option One. 

  • The employee shall make available to the University, upon University request, records of the business calls necessary to comply with applicable law and regulations, including but not limited to, the California Public Records Act; however, the employee may redact any personal information from the records provided. The employee agrees to retain cell phone bills for thirty (30) days from the date of receipt of said bills by the employee.

  • As long as the wireless service provider’s plan and device supports and is compatible with the business need required by the University, the employee may choose the device and the service plan he or she wishes to use. The arrangement is between the employee and the wireless service provider; the University is not involved in the contract with the provider. 

  • Device: A biennial (every other year) expense reimbursement toward the cost of acquiring the appropriate wireless device will be paid to the employee. The reimbursement will be the cost of the device (rounded to a whole dollar) or the approved maximum reimbursement amount from the HSU Wireless Device-Plan Fees schedule, whichever is less.

  • Monthly Service Charges: An annual expense reimbursement for/toward service fees will be paid to the employee. The reimbursement will be the annualized cost of the service and/or data plan (rounded to a whole dollar) or the approved maximum reimbursement amount from the HSU Wireless Device-Plan Fees schedule, whichever is less. (Employee must submit their most recent wireless provider’s invoice when requesting their annual reimbursement.)

  • Renewal Cycle: The employee wireless reimbursement will be paid on an annual basis if approved by the employee’s appropriate administrator. 

  • Renewal Amount: The administrator and employee will review the business need and the basis for the reimbursement amount at each renewal period.

  • Periodic adjustments: Employees may request a periodic adjustment of the expense reimbursement for reasons such as: underestimated usage, change in job duties requiring greater usage, and/or administrator wants employee to increase features/access new technology.

Option Three: Personally-owned Device with Infrequent Usage

Wireless devices under this option are the personal property of the employee. The occasional use of personal wireless devices for work-related purposes is no different than the occasional use of other personal equipment (e.g. a land line at home). Business wireless expenses are considered infrequent and incidental.  (Note: On-going assignments requiring wireless use for business should select Option One or Option Two.)

Consistent with long-standing reimbursement policies, if the occasional use has a cost and the employee is able to support that cost with the appropriate invoice documentation from the service provider, with department approval, the employee may submit a claim for reimbursement for that particular and specific use of the employee’s personal equipment. Employees will be reimbursed for the portion of the monthly plan related to business usage, plus they will be reimbursed for the actual cost of roaming, overage and other miscellaneous charges resulting from business usage.

Examples include: Media Relations staff supporting crisis, temporary Special Event staff used for weekend events, and business related wireless calls made during business travel.

 In order to request reimbursement:    

  • Use Accounts Payable’s “Petty Cash Reimbursement Request Form” located on the Financial Services website under “Forms” (Reimbursements under $50). ·     

  • Calculate reimbursement: Determine the number of business minutes used as a ratio to total minutes used; apply that ratio to the total monthly invoice. Submit the pro-rated amount for business use. The actual costs directly related to business use will also be reimbursed. ·     

  • Use Contracts and Procurement’s “Direct Payment Request Form” located on the Contracts and Procurement website under “Forms” (Reimbursements over $50).