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Many employees have been working remotely in California for most of 2020. If you switched to working from home, make sure you are being properly reimbursed for all expenses as required by California labor laws

Due to restrictions, guidance, and precautions relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies in California have transitioned as many employees as possible to remote work. With employees working from home, employers can continue operations while making sure to limit exposure to coronavirus. 

Some companies plan to continue a largely remote workforce even after the immediate concerns of the pandemic are over. This is often because employees can be more satisfied and productive when working from home, and companies can decrease overhead costs without as many employees reporting to work. 

With remote work being the norm in 2020, it is important that all companies adhere to California labor laws when it comes to remote employees. This includes properly reimbursing employees for work-related expenses. If you think that your employer might not be providing full reimbursement, you should not wait to contact the California unreimbursed work expenses attorneys at Mara Law Firm. 

Expense Reimbursement in California

California law requires employers to reimburse employees for any expenses that were necessary to fulfill their job duties. Sometimes, it can become necessary for an employee to cover the costs of their work up front, but the employer should ultimately be responsible for these expenses. For example, if an employee needs to put miles on their vehicle and gas in the tank to regularly travel between job sites, the company should reimburse them for gas and wear-and-tear costs reasonably.

Employees are not allowed to waive this reimbursement under the law, and waiver provisions in employment contracts are considered void in California. Employers also cannot terminate or otherwise retaliate against an employee who seeks reimbursement of reasonable employment expenses.

Expense Reimbursement for Remote Workers

Generally, the reimbursement law applies to employees who incur expenses while traveling for work. However, the law also applies to remote employees. This is especially important now that a substantial percentage of California employees are working remotely, even post-lockdowns for COVID-19.

Employers often save money when most employees work remotely. Laws and courts in California hold that it is unfair to simply pass these operating expenses over to employees. If an employer benefits from expenses an employee incurs, the employee should be reimbursed.

Some expenses that employees incur while working from home can include:

  1. Home internet service
  2. Personal home phones or cell phones
  3. Other utilities
  4. Electronic devices and equipment (if you use personal laptops for work)

Employees should keep close track of their payments for the above – and other – expenses they cover that also contribute to their ability to work remotely for an employer.

The law allows employers to increase an employee’s salary instead of providing additional expenses reimbursement payments. However, there should be a reasonable way for the employee to identify which portion of the wage increase is intended to cover their expenses. This part of the pay increase should be itemized, as simply giving an employee a raise does not satisfy the employer’s obligations under the law.

What Happens if You are Not Reimbursed?

Perhaps you have been using your home internet and smartphone for months without any reimbursement from your employer. Maybe your employer will reimburse you for some – but not all – of your eligible business-related expenses. You may notice you are not receiving reimbursement right away, or you might go months with unpaid expenses piling up before you realize what is happening.

No matter what the specific situation might be, it is important to consult with an employment attorney if you feel you have been deprived of any required reimbursement.

If our legal team determines that you have unreimbursed expenses, we can take action to obtain the reimbursement you deserve. This can include:

  • Negotiating with your employer directly for proper reimbursement
  • Reporting the matter to the California Labor Commissioner, and the office can levy civil penalties against your employer for refusing to provide proper reimbursement
  • Filing a lawsuit against our employer to seek your unpaid business expenses
  • Determining if this is a widespread issue at your workplace and identifying if a class-action lawsuit might be appropriate

There are many ways to seek the full reimbursement you deserve for necessary remote work expenses. The law and procedures can be confusing, and your employer might try to avoid liability, so you always want the right employment law firm to handle your claim.

Let an Employment Attorney Evaluate Your Options

It is normal to be unsure of whether your employer is properly reimbursing you for expenses. Some people might assume their employer is doing the right thing, or perhaps they do not want to make waves by raising the issue. If you would like to know for certain whether your employer owes you unpaid wages due to unreimbursed expenses, consult with our legal team immediately.

We can review your records, including everything you have paid for out of pocket for your remote workstation and job duties. We then review what your employer has reimbursed you for to determine whether your rights have been violated. If so, we will determine the best course of action to protect your rights and obtain the payment you deserve.

Sometimes, your employer might have made a mistake, and the lack of full reimbursement was unintentional. In other situations, your employer might fight against your claims, requiring you to prove what you are owed and seek compensation through the legal process. Our unpaid wage attorneys know how to handle either type of situation. We believe that all employees deserve proper reimbursement under the law, and we will fight for the payment you need to cover your employment expenses.

Contact Our California Unreimbursed Work Expenses Lawyers

Many companies are saving overhead costs by having their employees continue to work remotely following the COVID-19 shutdowns. However, these employers cannot save money to the detriment of employees by having them cover their job-related costs at home.

If you are not getting paid back for your work-at-home expenses, the California unreimbursed work expenses attorneys at Mara Law Firm can help. Call (619) 234-2833 or contact us online for a free case evaluation today.

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