Many employees in the private sector have mobile phones that are paid by their employer. Nowadays, a mobile phone has many different uses, such as purchasing music, train tickets, making donations, text messaging, surfing the Internet, etc.

Companies should therefore establish a mobile phone policy defining the restrictions applying to the use of mobile phones. Companies should lay down clear guidelines as to how employees are allowed to use an employer-paid mobile phone, including the consequences if the rules are not observed.

The employer could for example state the maximum amount allowed for phone bills, whether the phone may be used for calls for and from abroad, whether it can be used to purchase train and bus tickets, for voting for TV shows, donations, etc., for which fees are often payable. Further, it would be wise to establish a policy on whether the employee is expected to be available outside normal working hours (subject however to the rules on rest hours laid down in the Danish Act on Working Environment , and not during holidays, etc.)

Misuse of mobile phone

It may have employment law implications if an employee misuses the mobile phone. The Danish Supreme Court deemed it justified in a case from 17 March 2016 that an employer dismissed an employee in a situation where the employee had purchased tickets for a 5-month period for private transportation via the mobile, totalling DKK 1,282.40. The employer stated that the company had picked out the employees phone bills for a random check, as his bills were higher than those of his colleagues.

The employee could choose either to terminate his employment himself by giving one month notice or to be dismissed. The employee offered to pay for the tickets, but he would not terminate his employment himself whereupon he was dismissed. The employee’s view was that he was allowed to spend a certain amount yearly on mobile tickets because he paid tax of the value of the free phone. The Supreme Court upheld the High Court’s decision that the dismissal was justified, as the phone was a working tool that could not be used for payment of personal expenses without the employer’s consent.

The employee ought to have known that his work mobile phone could not be used for payment of private expenses without the employer’s express consent. The employee explained that he had not informed anybody about his purchase of train tickets, and he had kept no records of the amounts that he had just let his employer pay on his behalf.

Taxation of mobile phone

Employees will be taxed on DKK 2,700 yearly (or DKK 225 monthly), if they have an employer-paid mobile phone at their disposal for private use. If an employee has both employer-paid mobile and Internet, the employee still pays tax on only DKK 2,700 yearly. Private use of a workplace computer is not taxable. 

If the mobile phone is only a working tool that must not be used privately, the employee can avoid taxation. It however requires that the employee fills in a solemn declaration and beyond this; the employer must regularly check that the phone is not used privately