Procedures for Cellular Phone and Internet Service

Title: Cellular Phone and Internet Service Procedures
Effective Date: 06-01-2009
Issuing Authority: Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
Contact: Executive Administrative Assistant for Finance Office at 507-786-3016
Last Updated: 05-11-2021

Purpose of Procedures

The purpose of these procedures and guidelines is to provide consistent guidance for St. Olaf College (the College) employees to comply with Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations.


St. Olaf provides three primary methods for handling St. Olaf business conducted on cell phones:

  1. Allowance for personal owned device and plan: Employees who have a documented business need for a cellular device, as described below, will use their personal cell phone device and plan, and receive a taxable allowance as described below.  Employees may not use the College Purchase Card to pay for cellular device charges.  All contracts for service must be taken out in the name of the employee receiving the allowance and may not be taken out in the name of St. Olaf College. College funds may not be used for home phone lines or home Internet services (including DSL and cable modem). The benefit of having an allowance, over a college owned device and plan, is the employee owns the cellular device, and may use the device for both personal and business usage.  Employees may also use the taxable allowance to obtain the cellular service they desire, and may freely use it to purchase an individual cellular plan or a so-called “family” plan, and owns the cellular device and maintains the plan and number, if employment terminates.
  2. Olaf owned device and plan: In some situations, it may be necessary or advantageous for the College to own and pay the monthly service charges for cellular devices. The College will consider requests for College owned devices and contracted services. In these situations the device, number, and service plan must remain with the College if employment terminates, to transition to the replacement position or elsewhere at the College, if deemed appropriate. Examples include: (a) an on-call shared department phone for multiple individuals to use that is not assigned to a specific individual, and personal use is prohibited; (b) phones used by individuals in a department for communication if it is determined that the cellular device provides a more reliable and cost effective solution, and the phone is not taken home or used for personal calls.
  3. Reimbursement for business calls on a personal cellular device: If an employee is not approved for a monthly allowance, but incurs expense for individual telephone calls, it is also possible to be reimbursed for actual usage.  In order to be reimbursed in this manner, employees should submit an expense report through their department to the Accounts Payable Office with a copy of the telephone bill clearly showing which calls were business related, and describing the specific purpose for each of those calls.

All employees with a business-related need for a cellular phone allowance should complete the Cellular Phone Allowance Request Form.  The employee’s direct supervisor signs the Request Form and sends it to the Finance Office. The Vice President and Chief Financial Officer determines if the request is approved. If the request is approved, then the original signed form is sent to the Payroll Office. Once received and processed by the Payroll Office, a taxable monthly allowance will be added to the employee’s first paycheck of each month. This allowance amount will be charged to the appropriate departmental operating budget as indicated on the eligibility form. Upon request, the employee must be able to provide recent copies of cell phone records and be able to substantiate the business usage.

Cellular Phone Service Allowance 

The responsibilities of an employee must fall under one the following categories to qualify for a cellular phone service allowance:

  • More than 50 percent of work is conducted away from the campus office and there is frequently an urgent need to reach the employee to transact timely College business-related communications.
  • The employee must be regularly contacted for crisis and/or emergency situations after normal business hours.
  • The employee is on call 24/7.

The amount of monthly allowance is based upon a typical contract necessary to meet business-related needs for either voice services or for voice and data services.  The College offers two allowances, one for voice and one for data.  The plans that will be assessed and adjusted as needed based on the changing environment:

Estimated Monthly Business Usage Level Voice Plan Allowance Voice and Data Allowance
Voice Only $20 per month n/a
Voice and Data $50 per month or the actual cost of the monthly service, whichever is less

Allowances are not issued to student workers, contract employees, part-time or temporary personnel, consultants, or other employees that do not have a compelling use for the technology. A significant daily commute from home to work is not a justification for a cellular device allowance. The College will not provide a regular monthly allowance for de minimis monthly use.

No additional reimbursement will be provided to those receiving a monthly allowance, even if the monthly charges to the employee exceed the allowance amount.

Reminder: The allowance does not constitute an increase to base pay, and will not be included in the calculation of percentage increases to base pay due to annual raises, job upgrades, benefits based on a percentage of salary, etc.  The allowance will continue unless the Payroll Office is notified in writing either by the employee, or the supervisor that the allowance is to cease or as the College re-assesses the procedures and allowed amounts.

Cellular Equipment Allowance 

The College does not provide reimbursement for cellular device purchases.

Cancellations/Changes to Cellular Contracts

The College reserves the right to change or terminate these procedures regarding allowances for cell phone service and equipment.

If, prior to the end of a cell phone contract, as a result of a personal decision by the employee, employee misconduct, or misuse of the phone results in the need to change or end the cell phone contract, the employee will bear the cost of any associated contract termination fees.

If, prior to the end of the cell phone contract period, a College decision is made (unrelated to employee misconduct), which results in the need to change or end the cell phone contract, the College will bear the cost of any associated contract termination fees.

Appropriate Use of Cellular Devices Used to Conduct St. Olaf College Business

It is imperative that cellular devices used to conduct St. Olaf College business be used appropriately, responsibly, and ethically. The following must be observed:

  1. College employees are prohibited from storing confidential St. Olaf data on a cellular device. Employees must follow the data security policy and data elements that are subject to data privacy rules as posted on the IT Web site.
  2. College employees are prohibited from operating a motor vehicle while using a cellular device to conduct St. Olaf Business.
  3. No employee is to use a College owned cellular device for the purpose of illegal transactions, harassment, or obscene behavior, in accordance with other existing employee policies.