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Employers Must Reimburse Employees for Business Expenses including Cell Phone Use, but What Else?

ISSUE: Recently, facility management company ABM settled a class action for $5.4 million dollars after a federal court certified a class of janitors who claimed the company did not reimburse them for the required use of their personal cellphones.  This invites the question, what else must employers pay for?

TAKEAWAYS: Under California Labor Code section 2802, employers must reimburse employees for all necessary business expenditures.  We know cell phone usage, even if minimal, qualifies, but what are some other necessary business expenses that may require reimbursement?  If employees work from home, must you reimburse for their use of paper, tools, pens and pencils?  If employees routinely send or respond to emails at home before or after work, do you need to reimburse for a portion of their internet service provider costs?

The single answer to these questions is:  possibly. 

To eliminate liability, businesses may wish to review company reimbursement policies and practices.   Employers should consider doing the following, in conjunction with their legal teams:

  1. Determine whether employees check or update their schedules on their phones, via an app or online.

  2. Determine whether employees email supervisors or co-workers before or after work.

  3. Determine whether employees perform any work for the company outside of the physical location of the business.

Please contact Ricardo Rozen for more information.