While many companies have returned to the office since the COVID-19 pandemic began more than two years ago, many others have retained work-from-home arrangements for their employees. If you are employed under a work-from-home arrangement, there may be certain expenses you’ve made that your employer should reimburse.
Generally speaking, employees should always be reimbursed for work-related expenses they must make during their normal course of employment. A common example of such an expense is business-related travel, when companies are responsible for paying for an employee’s travel arrangements and accommodations. Another example occurs when employees are required to travel between worksites during their day. In this case, they are compensated at a rate based on their mileage.
Employers may resist reimbursing employees for remote work expenses, but in many cases, employees are entitled to reimbursement for certain basic costs. Let’s discuss a few of these below.
Most homes have reliable Internet access these days, so much so that many employers take it for granted that their workforce can reliably conduct business from home. The problem with this is that the employer is benefiting from the employee’s Internet access, ostensibly also requiring the employee to maintain that access. In some cases, employers might even require employees to purchase expensive plans with faster speeders or greater bandwidth.
Even if the employee benefits from having access to the Internet during their personal time, the fact is that their employer benefits from it, too. For this reason, employees who rely on using the Internet to conduct business should be compensated at least partially to account for business-related use. If the employer demands a specific Internet plan or the employee doesn’t have an existing connection, the employer may be liable to cover these costs.
Computer & Software Costs
Second to the Internet, remote work is made possible by access to a computer. Employers might already issue company-owned computers to their remote employees for security-related purposes, but some companies may expect employees to use their own equipment or purchase specific equipment (such as a monitor or software) for work.
These businesses can run afoul of the law if they fail to compensate employees for the use of their personal equipment for work-related purposes or fail to compensate employees who purchased equipment for work with their own money.
Cell Phones & Cell Phone Plans
As with Internet access, companies that require employees to make calls or conduct business on their phones may be liable for some or all of the cost of a phone and/or plan. Many companies handle this by issuing company-owned phones, but there are cases when an employee may be expected to use their personal cell phone and plan for work-related purposes.
In these instances, employees should be reimbursed, at least, a reasonable amount to cover the number of minutes or amount of data used for work. If an employer requires an employee to have a certain type of cell phone with specific capabilities, they should also cover the cost of purchasing a new device.
Other Potentially Reimbursable Expenses
The recent boom in remote work has drawn a lot of attention to many other costs for which work-from-home employees can seek reimbursement.
These other costs can include the following:
- Square footage used to create a home office
- Furniture purchased to create a home office
- Utilities such as electricity
- Postage and packaging costs
Does Your Employer Owe You Reimbursement?
If you made a necessary work-related expense or are using personal equipment for work, your employer may be obligated to reimburse you for some or all of the cost. If your employer is refusing to compensate you under these circumstances, you should speak to an experienced employment law attorney who may be able to help you seek reimbursement.
Contact K2 Employment Law today to learn more about how our attorneys can help. When you reach out to us, request to schedule a free consultation!