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Do Employers Have to Reimburse Employees for Business Expenses?


According to California labor laws, employers are required to reimburse their employees for any expenses that are incurred while conducting business on their behalf. This means that if you use your personal car for business travel, pay for supplies or equipment, or make any other type of purchase related to your job, your employer must reimburse you.

California is one of the few states that has strict regulations regarding employee expenses, and the rules apply to all types of workers, including full-time, part-time, temporary, and independent contractors.

Which Expenses Must Employers Reimburse?

Employers are obligated to reimburse employees for any expenses they incur when such purchases are required to perform their duties at work or are otherwise required by the employer.

The types of expenses that are reimbursable vary widely, but some of the most common examples include:

  • Travel
  • Meals
  • Uniforms
  • Supplies
  • Cell phone and Internet usage
  • Mileage (65.5 cents per mile as of 2023)

If you incur any of these expenses while doing business for your employer, you have the right to ask for reimbursement. The only exception is if your employer provides you with all the necessary tools or resources to do your job, such as a company car or laptop. In that case, you would not be entitled to reimbursement for those expenses when you choose to use equipment that differs from those that your employer provided.

How Do I Get Reimbursed for Business Expenses?

To get reimbursed for your expenses, you need to keep good records and submit them to your employer in a timely manner. The law requires that you provide detailed receipts and invoices that show the cost and purpose of the expense, as well as the date and location.

You also need to document the business purpose of the expense, such as a meeting with a customer or a research project. Your employer may have specific policies or procedures in place for submitting expenses, so make sure you know what they are and follow them closely.

What If My Employer Refuses to Reimburse a Business Expense?

If your employer refuses to reimburse you for your expenses, you have the right to file a complaint with the California Labor Commissioner or file a lawsuit in court. The law allows for penalties and damages if your employer violates the reimbursement requirements.

However, you can try to resolve the matter with your employer first because this can save time, money, and stress for all parties involved. That said, it may not always be possible to do so, in which case you should consult with an employment lawyer for guidance.


As an employee in California, you have the right to be reimbursed for any expenses you incur while conducting business for your employer. If you experience any issues with your reimbursement, an employment lawyer such as one of ours at K2 Employment Law can provide the legal support you need.

For more information about how we can help, contact us today and request a free initial consultation.

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