Cellular Phones and Service Allowances


To provide guidance for the administration of cellular phone service allowances for authorized University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) employees. This guideline addresses allowances for cellular phone service plans (other devices such as laptops, iPads, tablets, air cards, mobile radios, and watches are not included).


  • bor.20203.ut
  • UTS165
  • HOP9.49
  • HOP8.15

University Guidelines

Table of Contents
  1. Overview
  2. Allowance
  3. Eligibility
  4. Authorization
  5. Cellular Phones and Service Plans
  6. Required Notifications
  7. Data Security
  8. Exceptions
  9. Annual Review
  10. Consequences of Non-Compliance

A. Overview

The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) recognizes that the performance of certain job requirements (duties and responsibilities) may be enhanced and supported by the use of cellular phones.

Employees who are required to maintain cellular phone contact with UTSA while away from the office or to be accessible outside of regular business hours may be eligible for a monthly allowance to offset the cost of the business portion of their cellular phone plans.

UTSA does not provide UTSA–owned cellular phones or related services for individual employees unless recommended by the appropriate vice president and approved on an exception basis.

B. Allowance

The cellular phone allowance is not intended to cover the entire cost of the employee's cellular phone plan, but rather to offset the cost of the business use of the phone.

The allowance is taxable income to the employee, subject to tax withholding and included in the employee's Form W-2, but it is not included in the employee's base pay (does not affect TRS, ORP, salary adjustments, etc.).

The initial level of the allowance is $75 per month. An annual review of the rate will be conducted, and the allowance may be adjusted or discontinued at any time as warranted by changes in the employee's job requirements.

Employees who currently have a UTSA-owned cellular phone may choose to keep using the phone, obtain and assume responsibility for a service plan, and receive a $65 per month allowance. The phone remains the property of UTSA and must be returned upon the employee's separation from UTSA or if it is determined that the employee's job requirements no longer justify the use of the phone.

C. Eligibility

The following may qualify for an allowance (benefits-eligible employees only):

  • Employees who must be available to be contacted and/or respond in the event of an emergency.
  • Employees who are frequently "on call" officially or implicitly and/or need to be contacted in an immediate or timely manner (during or outside of regular business hours) to respond to situations pertinent to their job requirements.
  • Employees who typically work in the field or at job sites where access to landline telephones and/or data network is not readily available.
  • Employees who frequently travel or are out of the office and need to be in contact with UTSA personnel or affiliates in order to conduct UTSA business.
  • Employees who must be in contact and accessible because of their role as critical decision makers.

The Department Manager is responsible for determining whether an employee's job requirements justify an allowance.

The decision to incur a business expense for an allowance must be carefully evaluated by the Department Manager from a cost/benefit perspective. Departments must first consider all other viable options such as landline telephones, pagers, or other less expensive communication devices.

D. Authorization

Upon determining that the employee's job requirements qualify the employee for a cellular phone allowance, the Department Manager completes the Cellular Phone Allowance form (Allowance form). The form must be approved by the dean, associate vice president (AVP) or director; and the appropriate vice president. The signed form is attached to an Additional Pay eForm.

Additional Pay eForms (with completed Allowance forms attached) must be approved and submitted to Payroll Services prior to the 15th day of the month for the allowance to be included in payroll for the next month (allowances are not processed retroactively). Allowances are paid by direct deposit.

E. Cellular Phones and Service Plans

Within 30 days of approval of the allowance, the employee must:

  1. Purchase a cellular phone and service plan at the level specified in the Allowance form that will meet department needs (if the employee currently has a UTSA-owned cellular phone and plans to keep using it, the employee must purchase a service plan for the phone); and
  2. Return any UTSA-owned cellular phone, that the employee does not plan to keep using, to the Department Manager for disposition as surplus.

If the employee has a UTSA-owned cellular phone, whether or not the employee plans to continue using the phone, the employee's department must work with Purchasing to cancel the existing plan, and continue to pay for the existing plan until notified by Purchasing that the plan has been cancelled.

The employee is responsible for negotiating, signing, and managing a personal cellular phone contract, either for a new phone or for a UTSA-owned phone if the employee currently has a UTSA-owned phone and plans to continue using it. The employee is also responsible for complying with any contract entered into with a service provider including payment of all expenses incurred (additional minutes used, roaming, taxes, and other charges). Employees are encouraged to take advantage of plans specifically discounted for UTSA employees.

An employee retains ownership of the cellular phone/s they purchase, and the employee has sole responsibility for the purchase and care of the phone, as well as any cases, covers, cords, chargers and other accessories for the phone (accessories are the employee's responsibility whether the employee purchases a phone or elects to continue using a UTSA-owned phone).

F. Required Notifications

The employee must maintain the cellular phone at the functionality level specified in the Allowance form. Employees must immediately report any lost or stolen cellular phone to the Department Manager and the service provider. If the employee terminates the service contract, the employee must notify the Department Manager immediately to discontinue the allowance (and return the phone if it is a UTSA-owned phone).

The following procedures apply if an employee who is receiving an allowance:
  1. Transfers to another job within the same UTSA department:
    • If the employee is still qualified for the allowance in the new job, the department attaches a new Allowance form to a new eForm to add the allowance to the new job.
    • If the employee no longer qualifies for the allowance, the department attaches a new Allowance form (indicating discontinuance of the allowance in Section 4 of the form) to a new eForm. If the employee is using a UTSA-owned phone, the phone must be returned immediately.
  2. Transfers to another UTSA department:
    • The original department submits a Job Record Data Change Request eForm to Human Resources and Payroll Services along with a new Allowance form indicating discontinuance of the allowance in Section 4 of the form. If the employee is using a UTSA-owned cellular phone and will no longer qualify for the allowance in the new department, the phone must be returned immediately.
    • The new department (if employee still qualifies for an allowance) attaches a new Allowance form to a new eForm to add the allowance to the new department.
  3. Leaves UTSA:
    • The Department submits a Job Record Data Change Request eForm to Human Resources and Payroll Services. This will automatically discontinue the allowance. If the employee is using a UTSA-owned cellular phone, the phone must be returned immediatel.

G. Data Security

Employees are reminded not to store UTSA data, especially personally identifiable information, on cellular phones. Any such information must be only for UTSA business, and must be temporary.

Any device for which UTSA provides an allowance is subject to all UTSA data access, management, and privacy policies and must be protected to the maximum extent when UTSA data is involved. All devices that are used to connect to UTSA's network are bound by all applicable UTSA network and computer policies.

Employees must use a password on their phones to protect UTSA data in the event of loss or theft of the phone.

Any misuse of the phone will result in termination of the allowance, loss of the right to continue to use a UTSA-owned phone, and possible disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment.

Data related to the business use of the cellular phone is subject to the TexGov.Ch552, UTSA records retention requirements, and all other applicable policies and procedures.

Cellular phones owned by UTSA that are no longer needed for university business should be returned to the Surplus Property Department. However, the assigned user must remove the password from the phone and reset the phone to factory settings to ensure the phone's content is removed before transferring to Surplus.

H. Exceptions

In a limited number of instances, UTSA may purchase a cellular phone and execute the service plan to provide for special features to meet specific departmental needs. Other reasons for an exception may include (1) grant funding that specifically provides for cellular phones and plans, and (2) rotating use of a departmental cellular phone for on-call employees.

The Department Manager submits the Cellular Phone Allowance Exception form for this purpose. The form must be approved by the dean, AVP or director, and appropriate vice president. The phone and plan must be purchased from a Texas Department of Information Resources ("DIR") cellular provider through a UTSA purchase order with the exception form attached, and the departmental budget must support the associated costs. For detailed instructions see the Cellular Phone Guide provided by the Purchasing Department.

I. Annual Review

Department Managers are required to review allowances on an annual basis, preferably during the employee's performance evaluation, and determine whether the employee's job requirements justify continuation of the allowance. Departmental reports listing all employees with allowances may be obtained from Payroll Services.

J. Consequences of Non-Compliance

Non-compliance with this guideline or with HOP 9.49 may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment.