Reimbursement Disputes

REIMBURSEMENT OF EXPENSES

Does my employer have to reimburse me for expenses?

Under California law, employers must reimburse all employees for expenses or losses necessarily occurred in the scope of their employment. In order to qualify for a reimbursement, an employee does not actually have to incur any additional or employment specific out-of-pocket costs. For instance, an employee who uses their printer does not have to purchase paper or ink specifically to assist their employer in order to qualify for a reimbursement. An employee’s use of their own printer and ink to complete work assignments constitutes a loss, and is therefore eligible for reimbursement.

What types of expenses must my employer reimburse me for?

Employers must reimburse employees for all expenses or losses provided that the amounts incurred were reasonable. Common examples of reimbursements include mileage for an employee’s use of their own automobile, cell phone, printer, computer, or internet connection while acting within the scope of their employment.

Do employers have to reimburse all employees for expenses? What if I am An Exempt Employee?

Employers in California must reimburse all employees, regardless of their exemption status for expenses. All employees, including unpaid interns and CEOs, are entitled to be reimbursed for expenses.

However, an employer’s failure to properly reimburse employees for expenses under federal law can result in a minimum wage violation or cause the employee’s exemption status to change.

How much does my employer have to reimburse me for using my car?

There are at least three methods by which an employer can reimburse an employee for auto expenses: (1) the actual expense method, which calculates the expenses that the employee actually and necessarily incurred; (2) the mileage reimbursement method, which multiplies the number of miles driven to perform job duties by a predetermined amount that approximates the per-mile cost of owning and operating an automobile, like the IRS mileage rate; and (3) the lump-sum payment method, in which the employer pays a fixed amount for automobile expense reimbursement.

If an employer uses the lump-sum payment method, the amount provided to the employee must be sufficient to reimburse employees for the actual expenses incurred. An employer’s failure to properly reimburse an employee for expenses may also result in a minimum wage violation.

How much does my employer have to reimburse me for using my cell phone?

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An employer must reimburse an employee a reasonable percentage of the employee’s monthly phone bill. The determination of what constitutes a reasonable reimbursement depends upon a number of factors including the frequency and extent of the use required.

What about expenses for employees who work remotely?

Depending upon whether the employer or the nature of the position required the employee to work remotely for all of part of their employment, an employer may be obligated to reimburse employees for the use of equipment and resources necessary to complete their duties. For instance, an employee who has to perform at least some work remotely and is not provided a company issued laptop or wireless card is entitled to reimbursement for the use of their device and internet connection.

An employer is not required to reimburse employees for expenses who chooses to work remotely as a matter of convenience, provided that the employer gives the employee the necessary tools and resources to perform their job duties.

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