If I have provided employees with a company mobile to contact clients whilst home working during the pandemic, do we need to report personal use as a benefit in kind as they were allowed to make some personal calls?
Answer: Within the tax system, it is possible for an employee to benefit from an employer-provided mobile phone without suffering a tax change for a benefit-in-kind if certain conditions are met. The ownership must not be transferred to the employee, as the exemption applies only if the employer makes a mobile phone available for use by the employee. The exemption covers the phone itself, line rental and the cost of any private calls made on the phone which are paid for by the employer. It also only extends to one phone per employee.
Can employees who are home-working use their own device?
They can, and although this may be cheaper, there are several security risks.
- The device may have old software which can easily be hacked into
- The email system may not be secure.
- Family members may share the device and see sensitive information, which may be a conflict of interest.
- The employee may store/download data which needs to be deleted as per your retention policy.
- Employees may not dispose properly of the equipment when it runs its natural course.
- Malware could be introduced through making personal downloads.
If you do decide to take this course of action then ensure you draw up some ground rules – these could be part of your home working agreements. Ideally, this would cover allowing to remote access to retrieve/delete emails, or bringing the device to you for disposal.