The Price of Staying Connected: Should Your Employer Pay Your Cell Phone Bill?

The last thing I want to do on Easter weekend, or any weekend for that matter, is take a call from work or answer an urgent email from a customer, boss or co-worker. Despite feeling this way I know that many employers want to stay connected with their employees outside of traditional office hours and so I have no problem trading a bit of my freedom to make my employer happy.

But the trade-off of being able to reach me during my spare time is that my employer covers the cost of my cell phone bill.

Fair trade? I think so.

One of the first items I negotiated when I started my current job – aside from my salary – was to get my employer to pay for a new phone and pick up the tab for my monthly cell phone plan.

Should your employer pay your cell phone bill?

Fun fact: I’ve carried a cell phone for well over a decade and never spent a dime out of my own pocket on a plan.

When I worked in the hospitality industry, my employer purchased Blackberry’s for the entire sales team and picked up the monthly tab. I didn’t have a cell phone before then, and I’m not sure what kind of phone and plan I’d have now if my current employer didn’t foot the bill.

Some quick math suggests that I’ve saved more than $9,500 over the last 12 years (144 months x $66 per month). That’s $9,500 more dollars to put into my RRSP, or into my kids’ education savings plan.

But I can hear the critics cry out: “What price, freedom?”

Let’s be clear – I don’t get a lot of phone calls or urgent emails to answer after hours. In fact, it’s a pretty rare occurrence.

I’m not a doctor or someone who is on-call and needs to respond at a moment’s notice. More often than not, the questions I get are simple and take only a few minutes to sort out. Then I can get back to spending time with my family, relaxing with a book, or working on my side business.

Final thoughts

Remember that you’ll never get anything if you don’t ask for it or negotiate.

A co-worker overheard me say that I don’t pay for my cell phone plan and got upset because he had to pay out of pocket. We each had a similar role in the organization, but he clearly didn’t ask for the perk and our employer wasn’t going to offer it without being prompted.

If your job (or boss) dictates that you must be available at any time to deal with clients or handle urgent matters, then that’s a great bargaining chip to get your employer to pay for your cell phone plan.

It’s up to you to work out the details – like negotiating that you pay for personal calls, long distance charges, or extra data usage – but the core plan should be the employer’s responsibility.

So go ahead and ask the question: “If staying connected is important to you than why don’t you pick up the cost of my monthly cell phone plan?”

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  1. Kurt Pearson on March 27, 2016 at 2:31 pm

    At the only job I ever had where I needed to be connected, they gave me a phone… For work. No personal calls. So I lugged two phones around all the time. Glad I have big pockets.

  2. wondering on March 28, 2016 at 6:12 am

    Could this be a taxable benefit?

  3. Michael James on March 28, 2016 at 8:33 am

    My employer provides smart phones to employees, but my approach has been to refuse one. I wouldn’t have customers calling me at off hours, but colleagues would. So, I don’t want one. Of course, not everyone can do this depending on their job, but it works for me. The only cost is the occasional face-to-face conversation with my boss when he asks we if we’ve sorted out that phone thing yet, and I say no.

  4. dental assistant on March 28, 2016 at 8:34 am

    Many companies give cell phones to employees, and it is not a new thing. Since unemployment rate is increasing how is it going to be in the future….

  5. Keith on March 28, 2016 at 11:34 am

    I took a new gig last year for a few reasons, one of which was more money. The job nets a higher salary, but had no cell phone included (nor a need for one). I had to go back to covering my own bill. While this could be no big deal, and I’m still better off overall, it sucked! I suggest that others never take an employer cell phone for granted, especially if it doesn’t interrupt your life much. In fact, it eased my life far more. Negotiating a salary is obvious, I’ll never lose sight of the other ways to be compensated – extra vacation time, cell phone etc.

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