You can get your employee discount on a phone at launch. That's always been the case. However, employee pricing, even for the biggest of companies, is always more expensive than the 2 year promotional price with rebate. If you have a New Every Two discount that makes it even cheaper.
So normal customer pricing is usually going to be your best bet. Employee discounts really aren't that great when it comes to phones. They only help off the plan access and accessories.