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University of Houston - Victoria

Office of the Vice President for
Administration and Finance

SECTION: GENERAL INDEX: A-16
SUBJECT: TELECOMMUNICATION USER GUIDELINES (DRAFT)

POLICY

This policy provides guidance for the use of University telecommunications resources related to its educational mission and applies to faculty, staff, students and others who have access to these resources.

Incidental use of desk phones for local personal calls is acceptable provided that the use does not interfere with the employee’s work. Individual departments may set internal guidelines for personal use of telephones and other telecommunication resources. Unauthorized or excessive personal use of state resources may result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

Personal calls placed through the University Telecommunications Network that result in additional charges, including any applicable sales and use taxes, must be reimbursed by the employee within ten days after distribution of the monthly call usage report.

This policy also addresses the administration of Monthly Communication Plan Allowances for those employees, who by the nature of their work, are required to be accessible or have access to the internet or other communication services regardless of time or location. Communication Allowances are for services only and may be changed at any time by the university. Allowances do not include the purchase or replacement of communication devices, accessories or other equipment which are the responsibility of the employee.

University owned equipment or communication services will not be provided to an employee or department unless substantial need due to an institutional necessity can be demonstrated.

Exceptions to any of the procedures in this policy require the approval of the President.

DEFINITIONS

  1. Telecommunications Resources - equipment, products, services and other resources including telephones, faxes, data lines, video call equipment, voice mail, pagers, cellphones, communication capable tablets, internet services and 800 series lines.
  2. Additional Charges - For purposes of this policy, any personal call or other personal use of university equipment or services that is not free of charge and results in an additional billing charge to the University.

PROCEDURES

Acceptable Use of Telecommunication Resources

  1. The first responsibility of employees is to their work. Employees are to use university telecommunications resources for work-related purposes in accordance with departmental guidelines and this policy. Personal long distance calls and other use not related to official university business should be avoided.
  2. Incidental personal use of equipment and services, in moderation, is not considered to be a misapplication of State property and is permissible so long as it does not unduly interfere with the individual’s assigned responsibilities or impede the normal functioning of the office. Employees should make every effort to minimize personal, non work related calls, faxes, e-mail messaging or social networking activity (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
  3. In instances where it is necessary to place a personal long distance call through the University Telecommunications Network, the employee’s personal telephone credit card must be used or the call must be collect or charged to a third party. Should a personal long distance call occur by accident or is necessary in the case of a personal emergency, the call must be reimbursed within 10 days to the Finance Department.
  4. State resources are not to be used for private commercial purposes. Use of university facilities, equipment or other resources for consulting or other non-university business activities is prohibited unless prior appropriate and equitable financial arrangements have been made between the employee and the University. Arrangements and approvals must be in writing, approved by the Department Head and appropriate Vice President. (References – Employee Standards of Conduct)

Monthly Communication Plan Allowances

Certain employees, by the nature of their work, may be required to be accessible by phone or text or have access to the internet or other communication services regardless of time or location. When an employee’s job duties, in the opinion of the department head, require an employee to use a cell phone and/or internet services, the department may request to monetarily contribute to the employee’s operation of a cell phone and/or internet service by providing a monthly cell phone allowance and/or internet communication allowance through these procedures.

Services purchased by the employee through a university allowance do not have usage restrictions since the equipment is owned by the employee and the services contract is between the employee and the provider.

General Provisions:

  1. Initial communication allowance requests must be justified and approved by the President;
  2. Communication Allowances are not intended to fully reimburse an individual for the total out-of-pocket costs since the service is for both personal and business use. Refer to Telecommunication Services Allowance Schedule for more information. (References)
  3. Allowances are not considered entitlements, do not become part of an employee’s base salary, and may be changed and/or withdrawn by the University at any time.
  4. Communication allowances 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. Refer to SAM 03.D.06, Taxable Fringe Benefits (References).
  5. The department may provide a monthly communication allowance to the employee for as long as the employee qualifies and sufficient departmental funding is available.
  6. An employee receiving a Communication Services Allowance from UHV cannot receive a communication allowance from another department or other System component.
  7. All communication allowances shall be reviewed annually, by August 1st, by each Department Head. Human Resources can provide the department with an allowance listing upon request.
  8. An employee may not continue to collect a Monthly Communication allowance when the service or device is no longer active or needed for the performance of the employee’s job responsibilities.

Employee Responsibilities

  1. The employee is responsible for contracting with the service provider, for paying any initial plan charges, for the purchase of the equipment itself, and paying all amounts due as agreed between the employee and service provider.
  2. Any service contract the employee might enter into regarding the acquisition or operation of the communication device is personal to the employee. The University shall have no obligation or make any guarantees with respect to such contract to the employee or the service provider;
  3. The employee shall insure that the intended wireless communication service can accept and send calls within the intended usage/or geographic areas required for university operations.
  4. The employee shall provide the department with the wireless telephone number associated with the communication allowance.

Authorization Process:

Complete a Communication Allowance Request (References)

University Provided Communication Devices and Services

University owned equipment or communication services will not be provided to an employee or department unless there is a substantial reason due to an institutional necessity. Approval by the President is required for University provided communication devices and services or for exceptions to policy.

Authorization Process:

Complete a University Owned Cell Phone Request (References)

Department Responsibilities

  1. Department shall require employees using university owned cell phones to maintain a usage log (References) of each outgoing and incoming phone call.
  2. Supervisor or designee (someone other than the individual(s) using the cell phone) shall review the cell phone log monthly and sign off. See Review Process for Calls through University Provided Cell Phones below.
  3. University-provided cell phones are intended for business only.
  4. Telephone logs are to be used for documentation and retained for three years by the department for audit purposes. (References)
  5. Occasional, infrequent personal calls of small monetary cost that are made or received from a UHV owned phone are not taxable to the employee and reimbursement of direct costs is required only if the charges can be identified. The IRS considers certain benefits to be “de minimis fringe benefits”, when the value of the benefit is so small as to make accounting for it unreasonable or administratively impracticable.
  6. Department shall maintain the following documentation in department files for three (3) years following the year in which the charges were incurred:
    1. Monthly carrier invoices including carrier calling records;
    2. Monthly logs of all calls, signed by employee and supervisor;
    3. Copies of receipts for payment of any identifiable personal calls

Types of Calls That Result in Additional Charges

The following are examples of calls and other services which result in additional charges to the university:

  • Directory assistance calls, including local or long distance (411 or 1-411).
  • Long distance calls made on university telephones (9-1- XXX-XXX-XXXX)

Supervisory Review of Technology Services (TS) Telecommunication Usage Reports

Telecommunications records shall be reviewed monthly by the department supervisor for compliance with this policy. The TS Telecommunications Coordinator will distribute call usage reports monthly to each department having desk phone extensions. The report will show details for each call charged. Calls charged to personal calling cards and calls to toll-free numbers will indicate a zero cost.

Supervisor process:

  • Ensure that usage reports from TS are distributed to employees and reviewed within 10 days of receipt;
  • Verify calls and charges appear reasonable and that each employee signed the acknowledgement for their telephone extension;
  • Ensure that any personal charges including applicable sales and use taxes are reimbursed within 10 days from the date of the usage report. A copy of the cashier receipt, written notation of the receipt number, or a copy of the payment voucher confirming reimbursement should be attached to the report;
  • Report should be kept on file in accordance with records retention guidelines in policy A-36;
  • Address abuse or other irregularities promptly.

Supervisor Review for Call Logs - University Owned Cell Phones

  • Review the cell phone telephone log monthly for completeness and that each employee has signed the log.
  • Acknowledge review by signing and dating the monthly log;
  • Ensure that any identifiable personal charges including the applicable sales and use taxes are reimbursed within 10 days from the date of the usage report or the billing date. A copy of the cashier receipt or written notation of the receipt number should be included with the returned monthly report or payment voucher confirming reimbursement;
  • Address abuse or other irregularities promptly.

Signature Acknowledgments – Monthly TS Reports

Each employee shall sign and date the following acknowledgment for their phone extension call detail. Errors or discrepancies should be discussed with the department supervisor.

“I have reviewed the attached telecommunications equipment charges and services and affirm they were for official university business unless I have noted otherwise. I understand personal calls require reimbursement within ten days. (Policy A-16)”

After all employees have signed off, the supervisor reviews and signs off. The supervisor's review only needs to be on the first page of the monthly TS report:

“As supervisor, I have reviewed and approved the attached telecommunications equipment and service charges for my department.”

Signature Acknowledgements – Monthly Logs - University Owned Cell Phones

Each employee must sign and date the following acknowledgement on the telephone log:

“I affirm that all calls were official university business unless noted otherwise. I understand that this device is for official use only and that personal calls require reimbursement within ten days (Policy A-16)”

Supervisor shall sign and date the following acknowledgement:

“Employee’s log was reviewed for compliance with Policy A-16”

1-800 Series Numbers

Departments may arrange for university 800 numbers for incoming long-distance calls. All university 800 series numbers must be coordinated through TS Telecommunications Services. Calls made to the UHV 800 series numbers are charged to the university as and is not intended for personal use. The department requesting the establishment of a 1-800 number for incoming calls is responsible for the charges incurred by those calls.

REFERENCES

1) Communication Allowance Request

2) University Owned Cell Phone Request

3) Telecommunications Services Allowance Schedule

4) Use Log – For University Provided Communication Devices

5) SAM 03.D.06 Taxable Fringe Benefits http://www.uh.edu/af/universityservices/policies/sam/3FicsalAffairs/3D6.pdf

6) SAM 03.A.19 - Personal Use of UHS Telecommunications Equipment or Services, http://www.uh.edu/policyservices/sam/3FiscalAffairs.htm

7) SAM 01.C.04 – Reporting/Investigating Fraudulent Acts, http://www.uh.edu/policyservices/sam/3FiscalAffairs.htm

8) IRS Bulletin 2011-38 –Tax Treatment of Employer Provided Cell Phones

9) Policy C-8, Employee Standards of Conduct http://www.uhv.edu/fin/policy/c/c-8.aspx

10) Ethics Commission Advisory Opinion #134

11) Ethics Commission Advisory Opinion #372

12) Ethics Commission Advisory Opinion #395


Approved by:

Signature Obtained
Philip Castille, Ph.D.
President

12/12/13
Date


Next review date: June 2016
Origination: Business Services

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