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Minnesota West Policies

Chapter 5 - Administration

5.22.2 Cellular and Mobile Device Policy

Part 1.  Purpose
Electronic communication is an important part of contemporary business practices, including the operations of Minnesota West. The purpose of this procedure is to clarify institution and employee responsibilities associated with provision of cellular devices and mobile computing devices.

Part  2.  Definitions
Subpart A.  Cellular device
Cellular device means a cell phone or a mobile computing device with voice capability. A cellular device is characterized by the fact that service plan cost generally is determined by the amount of use.

Subpart B.  Mobile computing devices
Mobile computing devices are portable computing and telecommunications devices that can execute programs. This definition includes, but is not limited to, notebooks, Palmtops, personal digital assistants, IPods, BlackBerry devices, and cell phones with internet browsing capability. Use of a mobile computing device may or may not require a wireless communication service plan or incur connection charges.

Subpart C.  Department cellular device
A cellular device purchased and maintained by a department or division for use by more than one employee or other authorized user while engaged in their assigned duties.

Subpart D.  Other wireless communication service
Other wireless communication service is any subscription-based communications service that relies on commercial cellular services for data or voice transmissions. These services are often marketed using names such as mobile content, wireless music services, cellular services, 3G wireless services, text messaging services, digital cellular services, mobile wireless services, mobile data services, wireless data services, wireless telecommunications services, analog cellular services, cellular data services, etc.

Subpart E.  Voice over Internet Protocol applications or VoIP
Voice over Internet Protocol applications and related devices are outside the scope of this procedure. The downloading of VoIP applications onto system-owned equipment is governed by System Procedure 5.22.1, Part 4, Subpart B(4). Acceptable Use of Computers and Information Technology Resources.

Part 3.  Eligibility for Cellular Device, Mobile Computing Device, or Other Wireless Communication Service Plan
Minnesota West may provide a cellular device or a mobile computing device, or other wireless communication service plans to an employee if it is determined by the college to be a necessary business expense under one or more of the following criteria:

  1. Availability of device and service is integral to the performance of specific duties within the employee’s job description;
  2. A substantial portion of the employee’s work is conducted outside of the building or buildings where the employee is assigned to work;
  3. The employee does not have an assigned office or workspace and needs to be contacted on a regular basis by the college for assigned services or to provide needed information;
  4. It is a job requirement that the employer be able to reach the employee outside of the employee’s normal work hours.

Minnesota West is not required to provide a device or service plan if it determines that there is not a sufficient business purpose for the expense or that it is not in the financial interests of the college.

Part 4.  Authorization and Annual Review
Subpart A.  Authorization
To be approved for a device (and service plan, if applicable) under this procedure, the following procedures are applicable:

  1. The supervisor of an employee requesting the device and plan must determine if the employee meets the threshold eligibility requirements in Part 4.
  2. A device shall be issued only if approved by an authorized administrator of the college.
  3. Documentation to support the decision to issue the device and plan must be retained by the supervisor consistent with records retention standards and be available for review and audit.
  4. Minnesota West will procure devices and plans under state or system negotiated contracts when possible.

Subpart B.  Annual review
The employee’s supervisor and the authorized administrator annually must review and document the continued business need for the device and plan.

Part 5.  Employee Responsibilities

  1. An employee who receives a cellular device or mobile computing device under this procedure is responsible for ensuring that the device is available for service during applicable business hours and as needed.
  2. The employee must immediately return the device upon request by the employee’s supervisor or upon the end of employment.
  3. The employee must comply with the provisions in this procedure.

Part 6.  Cellular Devices
Subpart A.  Personal Use Prohibited
Personal use of a cellular device and plan issued under this procedure is prohibited. Personal use may result in revocation of the employee’s cellular device and plan usage. Except in the case of an essential use, the employee is subject to disciplinary action for the unauthorized use of the cellular device or plan. A call is considered essential if the employee establishes that the personal call was:

  1. An unsolicited and isolated incoming call; or
  2. Minimum duration, urgent in nature, and could not have been made from a different telephone.

Employees must reimburse the state for all personal calls.

Subpart B.  Monthly Review of Invoices
Monthly invoices will be presented to each employee. The employee must review and initial the invoice and identify any use not permitted under this procedure before approving it for payment. The business manager will review the monthly invoice for reasonableness. 

Subpart C.  Payment Options for Cellular Device Expenses
Minnesota West will pay for business-related cellular device expenses only through either reimbursement to the employee for occasional, incremental actual expenses or direct payment to a vendor for a cellular device and service plan owned and managed by the institution.

Subpart D.  Reimbursement for Occasional, Incremental Actual Expenses
Business calls. Occasional business call expenses made from an employee’s personal cellular device are eligible for reimbursement if:

  1. The employee has not been issued a cellular device by the college or the assigned cellular device does not receive service in the area from or to which the call was made; and
  2. The employee has incremental costs directly attributable to the business calls.

Reimbursement shall be made through the business expense reimbursement process. 

Subpart E.  Personal calls while on travel status
Certain bargaining agreements or compensation plans provide that an employee in travel status overnight may claim expense reimbursement for actual personal telephone calls up to a defined limit. Employees who are issued a cellular device may make limited personal calls in lieu of claiming such reimbursement for calls while in travel status.

Subpart F.  Department cellular devices
Minnesota West may purchase cellular device equipment and service plans if the college determines the cellular device is necessary for the efficient operation of a department and the cellular device will be used by more than one individual.

  1. A department cellular device shall be used solely for business purposes. The equipment is designated as property of the college and must be returned to the department daily or as required. Examples of such department users might include maintenance personnel who need to be accessible by phone during their work shift.
  2. Purchase of department cellular device equipment or service plans must be approved by an appropriate administrator. At the time of purchase, the responsible party for each department cellular device must be identified. The responsible party must perform the actions required under this procedure.

Related Documents:

Related Guidance
I.    Use of a Personal Cellular Telephone for State Business
Occasional business call expenses made from an employee’s personal cellular device are eligible for reimbursement if the employee has incremental costs directly attributable to the business calls. Incremental costs are actual verifiable costs that are separately identified for each state call in excess of the standard monthly service fee.

Reimbursement will be made only if the business calls were reasonable and caused the employee to exceed the employee’s plan minutes. For example, if the personal plan is for 1000 minutes and in a given month the employee uses 950 personal and 100 business minutes, the employee would only be eligible for reimbursement for the incremental costs associated with the 50 minutes that exceeded the plan.

If the next month under the same plan the employee had 900 personal and 100 business minutes, the employee would not to be entitled to reimbursement because the business calls made did not cause the employee to incur additional (incremental) costs on the employee’s phone bill.

To qualify for reimbursement, an employee must prepare an Employee Expense Report and submit the documentation (a copy of the service contract, a copy of the bill, and notations as to who was called and the business purpose of each business call). The employee's supervisor must review the documentation and sign the report. If reimbursement requests are routinely submitted, the supervisor should consider the assignment of a cellular device to the individual employee.

II.    Data Practices and Records Retention
Public employees should understand that any records they create related to system business – including text messages, voicemail message, emails, and other electronic communications, are not entitled to privacy from the employer and may be government records. These records therefore (1) should be managed according to college, university, or Office of the Chancellor record retention policies, and (2) may be subject to disclosure under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act if someone requests them. These guidelines are intended to help employees manage the business-related messages sent or received on cellular or mobile computing devices to appropriately keep what should be kept and delete what is unnecessary.

The general rule is that business-related records that the institution retains must be kept on system – not personal – computer systems, and business-related records that do not require retention should be deleted on an on-going basis. This rule applies to college information transmitted on an employee’s cellular device or mobile computing device, whether the device is owned by the employee or provided by the college.

The Cellular and Mobile Device policy implemented by Minnesota West Community & Technical College is based on the policies, definitions and guidelines established by the Board of Trustees of Minnesota State in Minnesota State Policy 5.22.2.

Additional information for those that would like an institutionally issued cell phone or other mobile devices Cell Phone FAQ; Cell Phone Responsibilities; Cell Phone Authorization; iPad Usage


Approved by: Richard Shrubb, President
Date: April 14, 2010
History & Revision: July 26, 2017 Minnesota State link