IRS: You can reimburse remote employees for internet access Internet and Cellular Service. For example, California allows an employee up to three years to submit a reimbursement request. The policy should provide that employees are entitled and expected to take their uninterrupted, off-duty meal and rest breaks, and require employees to certify that (1) their time records are correct and (2) their breaks were provided in accordance with company policy. Time to Review Employee Wages and Salaries for 2021, California Supreme Court to Hear Oral Arguments on Retroactive Application of Dynamex, Updated COVID-19 Quarantine Guidance for the Golden State, California Supreme Court Cases Employers Should Watch In 2021, Here We Go Again: California Employers Face Third Round of Stay-at-Home Orders, California Employers are now Grappling with Cal OSHA’s COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard. Labor Code section 3600 states that an employer is liable “for any injury sustained by his or her employees arising out of and in the course of the employment.” Liability for an injury sustained by an employee while working at home is no different than if the employee had sustained the injury while working in the corporate office. When allowing employees to work from home, employers should have a comprehensive telecommuting policy. is a law firm with more than 900 attorneys in major cities nationwide serving clients across a wide range of practices and industries. Similarly, Illinois requires reimbursement of all “necessary expenditures or losses” an employee incurs within the scope of employment that are “directly related to services performed for the employer,” unless the employer has a written reimbursement expense policy and the employee fails to comply with that policy. In addition, the IT Division will also provide reimbursement toward a portion of an employee’s Home Internet access expenses. Nonetheless, an employer must still encourage employees to take their meal and rest breaks in accordance with the company’s legally compliant meal and rest break policy that applies to all non-exempt workers. The policy should also require employees to seek and obtain management’s approval before working overtime, and make clear that failing to do so could result in disciplinary action. Work equipment includes all hardware and software you use to carry out your work – it includes your Internet connection, your laptop/desktop computer, cell phone, as well as the apps you use to facilitate work. For a company whose budget can stretch, th… Office Safety. The best way to avoid any ambiguity is to either (1) provide employees with all equipment the employer deems necessary or (2) have a policy that outlines which expenses are reimbursable and to what extent, and makes clear that if the employee incurs necessary business expenses beyond those anticipated, those expenses should be submitted in accordance with the company’s business expense reimbursement policy. As the pandemic stretches on, some businesses remain remote because of necessity, while others are considering the many advantages of a remote workforce. Your employer may owe you for work-related expenses, like cell phones, internet, computer, office supplies and travel costs. The statute and courts only indicate a reasonable reimbursement is required. Additionally, any California business with one or more employees must carry worker’s compensation insurance. Accidents happen while working, and they can just as easily occur at a home office or remote working location. An unsettled question is what remote work expenses incurred by the remote employee be paid ... use of home internet/WiFi, use ... should notify HR so that the employee’s expenses can be reviewed and a determination made as to whether additional reimbursement is owed. Employers should be cognizant of this potential risk and have policies in place that ensure, to the extent possible, that an employee’s workspace is free from potential hazards, including loose Legos and hedge trimmers. Now, employers must consider an expanded view of business expenses as employees remain at home. (You may choose to reimburse for bunny slippers if you wish.). Finally, employers should consider developing policies for the use of personal devices for work and reimbursements. Labor Code section 2802 requires employers to reimburse employees for expenses “necessarily incurred” in their employment. There is no federal requirement to reimburse employees for business-related expenses. Remote employee expenses: Staying compliant with state, federal … Reimbursement Obligations. These are the most commonly provided items, with laptops/MacBooks more popular than clunky desktop computers that can’t be taken offsite or into the office if needed. We will continue to monitor developments in this area and update our readers. However, with everyone working from home now and for the forseable future, we are considering moving to a stipend based plan. New Cal/OSHA Emergency Regulation to Protect Workers from Wildfire Smoke, Attention California Employers! California Labor Code section 2802 requires employers to reimburse employees for “all necessary business expenditures or losses incurred by the employee in direct consequence of the discharge of his or her duties.” Before the pandemic, business expenses were usually limited to costs such as business travel or personal car mileage because workforces were operating within offices. 820 ILCS 115/9.5. Working from home? What Makes California Employment Law Different ... and How to Deal With It. Home Sweet Home Office: Considerations With Remote Employees, Calling All Employers Who Use An Outside Salesforce, The Road Less Traveled: Reimbursing Employee Vehicle Expenses Through Increased Compensation Can Make All The Difference. We were paying existing remote employees internet bills in full that they would put in through Concur for reimbursement. The complicated question is, “how much reimbursement should be provided for the use of home internet or personal cell phones?” Unfortunately, unlike the IRS guidance on mileage, no similar measure exists for the use of technology. Jackson Lewis P.C. However, reimbursement may not be required when an employer provides devices to employees, even if the employee ultimately elects to use their own personal device. These types of reimbursements include personal use of devices and even home internet. Businesses can avoid lawsuits under Section 2082 by simply providing their employees with internet and cell phones and reimbursing employees for mileage driven at the IRS reimbursement rate. Tracking non-exempt employees’ time on the clock becomes increasingly more difficult if they work remotely, since their supervisors obviously cannot consistently see when work is being performed. California employers must reimburse you for … If paying a percentage of the bill, employers should explain the calculation method to employees when they receive the Are My Bunny Slippers A Reimbursable Business Expense? Nonetheless, California law requires employers to maintain records of non-exempt employees’ work hours, and pay them overtime premium wages for any hours worked over eight in one day, over forty in one week, or any hours on a seventh consecutive day during a workweek. b. California is in the forefront of states mandating that employers reimburse employees for work-related expenses. When remote workers travel to an office location they may incur expenses such as transportation, meals and accommodation. D. Telework or remote work costs must be consistent with the employee’s work requirements and telework or remote work agreement. When it comes to remote workers, the most important inquiry is whether the expense was necessary for the work. Employees may request reimbursement for internet or cellular services, if, and only if: such service required to perform UC business, is approved by their department head, AND ; the employee does not already have high speed internet or cellular service available at their home, or alternative work location. Many employers already use some type of software that allows them to accurately record hours worked by an employee, and this should be no different for an employee working remotely. The Department of Industrial Relations (“DIR”) reiterated this requirement in its recent guidance related to reopening. Having built its reputation on providing premier workplace law representation to management, the firm has grown to include leading practices in the areas of government relations, healthcare and sports law. And in one case, a court found that an employee was entitled to workers’ compensation benefits when he sustained injuries trimming his hedges while on call. Thankfully, there are some software programs and apps available that ease the burden of keeping track of remote non-exempt employees and their time worked. Seyfarth Synopsis: Although the concept of working remotely may seem simple, employers must consider several issues before allowing employees to work from home. While this arrangement may not be viable for every employer, allowing employees to work from home or other locations of their choosing has enabled employers to reduce overhead expenses while boosting employee morale. Does A Trip To The Fridge And Back Count As A Break? However, several states (including California, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Montana and New York) have specific state law requirements applicable to employee expense reimbursements. away from the office). Employees Telecommuting During Public Health Crisis May Be … California Labor Code section 2802 requires employers to reimburse employees for “all necessary business expenditures or losses incurred by the employee in direct consequence of the discharge of his or her duties.” An exception might be made if the worker only teleworks due to adverse weather or a personal appointment (waiting for a plumber, for example). Although the current situation is a far cry from business as usual, California companies must nonetheless follow the state’s labor laws, including those governing meal and rest breaks for … But before employers allow their employees to be homebodies, there are several issues to consider. In response to “stay-at-home” orders issued by Governor Gavin Newsom and various California municipalities to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) employers have been asking or requiring employees to work from home. Internet speeds above normal consumer levels, when required for job duties. This means that an employee can recover the costs associated with the business use of their personal cell phone, internet, and car. Even before COVID-19, remote work policies were rising in popularity — usually as an optional perk for employees.But with the onset of COVID-19, millions of U.S. workers are now required to work from home. Expense Reimbursement for Employees Working Remotely - Cook … There is no exception to this requirement for employees who work remotely. Source If management is requiring a remote worker to travel outside the area where they reside, whether that be a company office or other location, then many companies treat it as a business trip for that employee and reimburse all incurred expenses. By making sure your remote employees have access to your software or timekeeping system on their remote devices, you can accurately track and monitor your remote employees’ daily and weekly hours worked. If an employee is using a personal device for business activities, employers should consider how much the employee will be using that device for work purposes, and reimburse the employee accordingly. As employees continue teleworking, employers should familiarize themselves with the requirements for reimbursement under California law. Remote work can help organizations recruit new employees with hard-to-find skillsets, or retain current employees who move due to spouse relocation or other life events. California Employers Association - Expense Reimbursement for … Coronavirus Questions? Here’s what may be included in your company’s remote work policy, based on some of the most common remote work reimbursement questions: Who pays for the work equipment? Finally, remember that California’s expense reimbursement law only applies to expenses that are “necessarily” incurred in direct consequence of the job duties or in complying with an employer’s directions. Remote work expenses traditionally have not been reimbursable under This law applies regardless of where the employee works. 1.1 In an effort to provide improved support for campus-wide systems and our partners, the IT Division will provide reimbursement toward a portion of an employee’s Cell Phone expenses, in accordance with WSU Policy 3-65. Cal/OSHA Approves Temporary COVID-19 Standard, Fall Into Handbook And Policy Update Season, ERISA & Employee Benefits Litigation Blog, Workplace Safety and Environmental Law Alert Blog. I recently published a short article in the California Labor & Employment Law Review that addresses an employer’s obligations to reimburse employees for expenses they incur while working remotely (i.e. Because the laws affecting telecommuting are constantly evolving, employers should be deliberate when enacting a telecommuting policy and continually revisit it to ensure it is legally compliant. In this regard, there may be uncertainty about whether employers are required to reimburse employees for expenses incurred to perform remote work. Under Labor Code section 226.7, employers must also pay an extra hour of pay each day in which they fail to provide a meal or rest period. Proposition 22 Passed – What Does It Mean for the Gig Economy in California? Generally, the burden is on the employer to make sure employees are getting reimbursed for business-related expenses. If you need assistance with ensuring compliance with remote work statutes or developing policies to manage a remote workforce, please contact a Jackson Lewis attorney to discuss. A: The most common expenses employers offer reimbursement for are equipment (e.g., additional monitors, printers), office supplies, and a portion of the employee’s monthly Internet bill and/or mobile device data plan. https://www.motus.com/employee-work-from-home-reimbursement As employees continue teleworking, employers should familiarize themselves with the requirements for reimbursement under California law. In March 2020, many employers suddenly found themselves managing a mostly remote workforce due to COVID-19. Published by Seyfarth Shaw LLP, this blog is for in-house attorneys, HR professionals, business owners, and managers who face real issues on a daily basis and need practical solutions to address them. “In-office workers who travel are usually provided with laptops, so it stands to reason an organization would do the same for remote workers,” says Hastings. Common types of remote-work expenses include monthly minute and data plans for cell phones, home internet, and purchases of various equipment. Today’s technology allows many employees to work nearly as well in their pajamas at home or in their jeans at a local coffee shop as they can dressed up at the office. California Issues Additional Guidance on What Pay Data Reports will Require, The State of California and Many California Localities Are Set to Increase the Minimum Wage on January 1, 2021 – Make Sure You Are Ready. Over the last few years, California has led the way in efforts to gain reimbursement for employees of many different work-related expenses. Finally, remember that California’s expense reimbursement law only applies to expenses that are “necessarily” incurred in direct consequence of the job duties or in complying with an employer’s directions. Remote work arrangements raise various policy issues, including reassignment of official worksite, pay, and reimbursement for travel. Named the “Innovative Law Firm of the Year” by the International Legal Technology Association, the firm’s commitment to client service and depth of expertise draws clients to Jackson Lewis for excellent value-driven legal advice. It seems to be easier and requires less admin work to approve a monthly/recurring internet expense. Other necessary or emergency expenses, when approved in writing by Purchasing and Accounts Payable. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please contact your favorite Seyfarth attorney. California Administrative Agencies Have Answers! And while OSHA generally doesn’t inspect home offices as it does with traditional workplaces, employers must still track work-related injuries that occur with remote workers. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), small business owners are responsible for providing employees with safe work environments. Unlike blogs that simply provide legal updates, this blog will have a running series of Workplace Solutions that will address evolving areas of interest, including California leaves of absence, recruiting and hiring, trade secrets, and the use of social media. For example, prior California court decisions have concluded employers must reimburse for portions of an employee’s cell phone use when the employee uses their cell phone for work. For instance, employees who use a personal cell phone to make work-related calls should be reimbursed for at least a percentage of their cell phone bill, though it can be tricky to determine what percentage of calls were necessary for work and what percentage were personal calls unrelated to work. Employee Home Internet Cost Reimbursement - Corbett Williams … If the employee is working in a state where reimbursement is required for “necessary” expenses, other expenses We aim to provide timely, topical information on the challenges that California employers face. 1.0 PURPOSE. As a result, employers should assess the amount of time employees will be using personal devices and internet service to determine what is reasonable. To head off frequently asked questions, the telecommuting policy should cover the following areas: Workplace Solutions. An employer generally complies with section 2802 by either reimbursing a given expense or providing the employee with the equipment necessary to ensure that the employee does not incur the expense in the first place. To help prevent injuries, employers should require employees to keep their remote work areas free from obstructions and hazards. Insight & Commentary on California Workplace Law Issues & Developments. Cal/OSHA Issues Notice of Emergency Regulation for Electronic Submission of CY 2017 Form 300A by December 31, 2018, San Francisco’s 10-Day Travel Quarantine Order Tells Holiday Travelers to Stay Home, Though Santa Likely Excepted, Cal/OSHA Approves Emergency Temporary COVID-19 Standard, Asked and Answered: Updates on California’s Pay Data Reporting Law, Not So Happy Thanksgiving? Q: The employee never told us about the expense, am I still required to provide a reimbursement? Working from home? 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