Cell Phone Use Policy: Business-Issued vs. Personal
We are trying to develop a consistent cell phone policy at our firm regarding use of business-issued vs. personal cell phones. Currently, our firm issues cell phones to senior staff and those who are frequently out of the office at client job sites. For assigned phones, the cell phone numbers are included on employee business cards issued by the firm. We also make available "unassigned" business cell phones for staff who may have a periodic need to be in contact from a client site. Our current policy limits the use of business cell phones for personal calls (similar to land-line phones) to emergency or brief conversations for coordinating personal needs.
With increasing number of employees having personal cell phones, our staff are asking if they can use their personal phones instead of being given a business phone (the reason expressed is that they do not want to carry more than one phone -- though it is not clear why someone "needs" to have a personal phone always on/available during work hours) with the expectation that all or part of the cost of their personal phone use would be reimbursed by the company.
Although we could potentially save money on cell phone costs by allowing staff to use their personal phones, some potential concerns/issues:
1. Are there any legal restrictions that we need to be aware of if we allow use of personal phones for business?
2. What is company liability for employee use of phone for "personal" vs. "business" use and how would this be distinguished legally?
3. What is the ability of company to regulate employee use of phones if it is a personal phone?
4. Would we be able to address potential IT issues with "Smartphones" that also interface with company EMail/intranet systems
5. If we put personal cell phone numbers on business cards, is the employee then considered always "on call"?
6. If employee leaves the firm, business calls to a personal cell cannot be automatically forwarded to someone else at the company.
7. Would there be increased administrative time/cost with reviewing cell phone use and verifying reimbursement amounts (unless flat reimbursement dollar amount specified?)
8. If continue some phones on business plan and others on personal cell reimbursement plan, then it may impact the cost-effectiveness of existing business cell plan. Also, would there be "fairness" issues if some staff were allowed to use personal phones and others were required to use business phones (for example, those who put cell phone number on business card being required to use business phone).
9. What are legal requirements for reimbursement? Can we set a flat rate that is only a partial cost of the employee's total phone plan or would we be required to reimburse the entire plan (in which case it would be better to have business phones that we allow employees to use for personal use)?
I am leaning toward requiring the use of business cell phones for anyone who needs to use a cell phone for business purposes and not allowing (or limiting) use of personal cell phones for business purposes. However, perhaps I am missing an opportunity to save money on operational costs for cell phones and keep employees happy.
I am curious as to what other firms are doing, and appreciate any thoughts/advice that others on this forum may have.