Most probably don’t realize that when they do, part of their cell phone costs may become reimbursable—even if they have plans with unlimited minutes. An employee may not decide on their own to use a personal cell phone without informing their employer and then demand reimbursement. If there are any changes in employee status that necessitates a change in the allowance amount or cancellation of the allowance, the Controller’s Office is required to be notified, by email or in writing, and a new allowance form may be required based on these changes. Otherwise, the employer would receive a windfall because it would be passing its operating expenses onto the employee. Our Sitemap. There are two primary patterns for allowing government employees to utilize cellular phones. Absolutely criminal that any employer can require an employee to use their own personal phone without any reimbursement. For example, expenses incurred when working remotely, such as electricity, internet, and use of personal devices. ... many states have laws on the books requiring employers to compensate employees for any mandatory work tools. A: Under the FLSA, if the cost would reduce the employee’s pay below the minimum wage or cut into overtime, the reimbursement must be made no later than the next regular payday. Employer may regulate use or possession of such devices in the workplace; reasonable limitations are common. The policy will state the following: Question: Is there a salary cap on this guidance => “However, some states have their own laws surrounding expense reimbursement. However, reimbursement for international or satellite cell phone coverage (when not needed for the employer’s business) or a pattern of reimbursements that deviates significantly from a normal course of cell phone use in the employer’s business would likely receive heightened scrutiny from an … For years I have been, but it just recently changed. For instance, where it is mandatory for employees to use their personal cell phones for work, generally they must be compensated for a reasonable percentage of their phone plans. Absolutely criminal that any employer can require an employee to use their own personal phone without any reimbursement. A: Some states expressly require employers to reimburse employees for business trips and other business-related expenses. In an effort to prevent the spread of Covid-19, many employers are permitting, and in some cases requiring, employees to work from home. 1.1. Expense reimbursement: In a typical reimbursement policy, employees purchase a cell phone (from a list of company-approved devices) along with the service plan. The Court held that even where the plan is unlimited and the employee did not incur any additional cost, reimbursement was required under Labor Code Section 2802 because the employer would otherwise receive a windfall as it would be passing its operation expense onto the employee. The cellular phone equipment allowance includes all related accessories such as batteries, cases, covers, chargers, etc. Those states include: Illinois, California, Massachusetts, Montana, Pennsylvania, New York, Iowa, and the District of Columbia. We have no objection to WAPA reimbursing employees for government use of personal cell phones; however, without specific statutory authority, WAPA may not reimburse employees at a flat rate instead of reimbursing for actual expenses. California’s Labor Code Section 2802(a) states that:. This figure varies depending on the company and the agreed-upon policy. Several other states have similar labor laws, including Illinois, Massachusetts, Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Dakota, so it is important for employers to know what the law requires in the jurisdictions where their employees live. For example, if an employee used 1,000 cell phone minutes in a month and 250 of those minutes were to make calls for their employer and the other 750 were personal, then the employer would be required to reimburse 25% of the total cell phone bill … Thus, the court held that to be in compliance with Labor Code section 2802, “the employer must pay some reasonable percentage of the employee’s cell phone bill” if the employee uses a personal cell phone for work purposes. Travel: Q: Do I have to reimburse employees for transportation and lodging while they travel for work? Unlike California, Illinois’s new expense reimbursement law allows employers to establish written expense reimbursement policies specifying the amounts and requirements for any such reimbursements. for work-related purposes and that the employer would therefore have no reimbursement obligation to these employees. Eligible e mployees (below) may receive a cell phone stipend from the U niversity for business - related costs incurred when using their personal cell phones. CCHP helps you stay informed about telehealth-related laws, regulations and Medicaid programs. Those states include: Illinois, California, Massachusetts, Montana, Pennsylvania, New York, Iowa, and the District of Columbia. Reimbursement Obligations. One of the most common job-related costs employees have is the cost of a personal cellular telephone or “smart phone.” The company then reimburses the initial cost of the cell phone and the service plan fees each month on receiving the associated receipts. In the U.S., you must follow certain reimbursement procedures or include the payments in reportable compensation. Phones are no different. In other words, "reimbursement is always required." However, some states have their own laws surrounding expense reimbursement. Arguably, such expenses are also reimbursable under Section 2802. by Matt D'Abusco | Aug 8, 2016 | Blog | 0 comments. The method used to submit expenses for reimbursement. See our prior advisory here. Or do you want to provide company phones? Therefore, employers may wish to review their expense reimbursement policies in advance of the law’s January 1, 2019, effective date. Cell Phones and Other Electronic Devices. Illinois has joined a number of other states (e.g.,California, Massachusetts, and Montana) in enacting expense-reimbursement statutory or regulatory provisions or addressing expense reimbursement obligations through agency guidance. Many employees regularly use their personal cell phones for work-related calls. However, many employees possess unlimited phone data and plans, making it difficult to separate the costs for personal and work use. and then tell you they won’t pay you for it. Ne… For many companies, this requirement has already impacted how companies implement 'Bring-Your-Own-Device' (BYOD) and remote work programs. Be sure to list the percentage of the bill that is reasonable to reimburse. The type of technology-related expense, such as phone and internet, that are reimbursable. Thus, to be in compliance with section 2802, the employer must pay some reasonable percentage of the employee's cell phone … If the first option is followed and the government purchases and owns the phones, then the city or county should adopt some usage policies… If you decide to reimburse employees for their cell phone use, should you do so under an accountable or non-accountable plan? The use of the personal cell phone must be directed or approved by the employer. As of Jan. 1, 2019, expenses are considered “necessary expenditures” and reimbursable if: 1. They are now requiring the staff members to use their personal cell phones while they are at work by using whats app (messaging app) as a business communication tool. a. The trickiest areas are cell phones and internet given that employees are now working from home because they cannot go into the office, as opposed to perhaps at their convenience. The appellate court ruled that “reimbursement is always required,” and the employer must pay “some reasonable percentage” of the employee’s cell phone bill to comply with the Labor Code. When employees pay for business related expenses, they are kicking back money to their employers. The court stated that section 2802 requires that the employer should pay some “reasonable percentage” of the employees’ cell phone plans when the cell phone is required for work. To support a tax-free reimbursement program, employers should leverage data that accounts for each individual’s regionally-specific costs. There is no federal requirement to reimburse employees for business-related expenses. In California, for example, employers are obligated to reimburse employees for all “necessary expenditures or losses” the employees incur in carrying out their job duties. So would cell-phone and Internet use, although employer and employee would likely have to come to agreement on percentages. Illinois was the newest addition this year. In Cochran v. Schwan’s Home Service, Inc., 228 Cal.App.4th 1137 (2014) (“Cochran”), the California Court of Appeal held that employers must reimburse employees for required work-related use of personal cell phones—regardless of whether they incur any additional out-of-pocket expense from that work-related use. Required fields are marked *, IRS Counts Excess Mileage Reimbursment as Wages. Redirects responsibility for providing proof of work-related phone usage so that employees can be compensated for cost of such usage, to the extent the actual cost can be determined. Schwan’s Home Service, Inc., 228 Cal.App.4th 1137 (2014) (“Cochran”), the California Court of Appeal held that employers must reimburse employees for required work-related use of personal cell phones—regardless of whether they incur any additional out-of-pocket expense from that work-related use. I work for a small animal hospital in Texas. The Cochran case of course raises a number of interesting issues with respect to other business expenses incurred. The plaintiffs in Cochran claimed that while they didn’t incur an extra charge on their personal cell phone bill when they used their phones for work-related purposes, reimbursement for some part of their personal cost was still required. The command staff (non-exempt) are required to have phones and must be available in case of an emergency. 1. BYOD, or bring your own device, policies are becoming more common in work environments. The time it takes to compute the reimbursement to each employee. Why Millennial Employees Are Best Qualified to Reach Millennial Customers, Tackling Exempt Employee’s Attendance Problems, Legally, Business Math: How to Calculate Pay Raise by Percentage, Business Math: How to Calculate PTO and Vacation Accrual, Partial Unemployment Benefits for Hour and Pay Cuts, Business Math: Calculating Time Off By Hours Worked. In lieu of department-issued cell phones, the fire chief has proposed a $50-per-month flat cell phone reimbursement for members of the command staff. Conversely, if an employer provides a cell phone as a benefit (specifically intended for … These include California, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia. Let’s take these three decisions in order. For example, this law will require employers to reimburse employees who use their personal cell phones for work-related calls and messages. The new law in Illinois states that employers must reimburse all “necessary expenditures”. These payments are referred to as mobile stipends. Unlike California, Illinois’s new expense reimbursement law allows employers to establish written expense reimbursement policies specifying the amounts and requirements for any such reimbursements. Under these policies, many employers are paying anywhere from $30 to $50 per month toward employee cell phone bills. Except for alimited number of positions, the university will notown cell phones for the use of individual employees after January 1, 2017. Cochran claimed that the company was required to reimburse him for the use of his cell phone, even though he had a plan with his service provider giving him “unlimited minutes” of calling time and did not incur additional out-of-pocket expenses related to the business calls. Your nonprofit's employees or volunteers are likely to have business-related expenses that they pay out-of-pocket. Company-issued cell phones can have any limitations the employer cares to impose. Written policies should make clear that listing a cellphone number as a point of contact is optional and that employees who incur additional cellphone costs for work use may submit such additional costs for reimbursement. California’s Labor Code Section 2802(a) states that:. Recently, Illinois modified its Wage Payment and Collection Actto include expense reimbursement rules. Can my employer require me to use my personal cell phone and require me to add a messaging app for work? But because employees were required to use their personal phones for these tasks, they should have been compensated for data and cell phone costs under the California labor code. For more information on the new law, check with Epstein Becker Green. Potential Damages. Another way to avoid excess reimbursement is to require the employee to submit the cell phone bill as part of the expense, the way you’d require a receipt for a client meal expense. While courts have not ruled on these specific issues, we will likely see these issues arise especially given the ease and ability of employees to work remotely. The following memo was just released by the IRS and is addressed to IRS auditors on cell phone usage and reimbursement by employers of employee personal cell phone for business usage and the employer paid cell phone used for some personal usage by the employee. While these standards don't apply in every state or country, employers should be aware of the standards currently being enforced in California, because history tells us that most U.S. states that favor the employee will be following suit. If your cell phone is exclusively used for business, then you can be reasonably assured that you could get a reimbursement for the entire $150 from your employer, as long as your employer has an employee reimbursement policy for such expenses. This list would include phones, phone service, internet service, computers and/or tablets, and any communications or home … I am eligible for reimbursement from my employer for my cell phone. The information provided is only for research and informational purposes and should not be construed as legal counsel. However, some states have their own laws surrounding expense reimbursement. The employee must remain in agreement with the company’s individual reimbursement policy. by Jennifer Azara. Your email address will not be published. The acceptable time period for which employees may submit expenses. It would still be $150 for just the one line. © 2020 Ares Law Group. Employers don’t require you to go to an office supply store to buy your own pens, paperclips, printer, computer, etc. Expense reimbursement: In a typical reimbursement policy, employees purchase a cell phone (from a list of company-approved devices) along with the service plan. In states that require reimbursement for business expenses, most require the reimbursement within 30 days. Schwan’s Home Service, Inc., 228 Cal.App.4th 1137 (2014) (“Cochran”), the California Court of Appeal held that employers must reimburse employees for required work-related use of personal cell phones—regardless of whether they incur any additional out-of … M any IP phones cost under $50, a figure you'll more than recoup when you stop paying for your employees' cell phones. The court agreed and determined employers must reimburse employees “some reasonable percentage of the employee’s cell phone bill.” In 2019, Illinois passed new law regarding reimbursement by employers. Reason #2: Call Center Features. In states that require reimbursement for business expenses, most require the reimbursement within 30 days. Accordingly, employers may be required to … The second is for the employee to purchase the cellular phones and request reimbursement for the business calls. personal cell phone data plans when supervisors call those phones with work-related inquiries; home internet bills when employees are required to get online to handle work issues ; remote equipment, like routers and other computing necessities; What Is Not Allowed to be Reimbursed? 1. 1.1. 2. … The potential obligation to reimburse employees for remote work expenses is … Reimbursement is required even if the employee does not actually … Taxable reimbursements and payments The general answer is yes – and this is true even if your plan is unlimited, so long as it is necessary in performing your duties. The employee submitted the expense for reimbursement with proper supporting documentation* (i.e., a receipt) within 30 calendar days of when it was incurred. A "necessary” expense is defined in section 9.5 as all reasonable expenses that: (a) are required by the employer in the discharge of the employees’ duties; and (b) are primarily for the benefit … Mobile management overhead 3. Many employees regularly use their personal cell phones for work-related calls. California law requires that employers reimburse employees for “some reasonable percentage” of their cellphone bills if the employer requires them to use their personal cellphones for a business purpose – regardless of whether the employee incurs charges over and above what his or her plan costs. Employers should have reimbursement policies reviewed by counsel to ensure compliance with Labor Code section 2802. Another regularly reimbursable expense is training and education. Check your state law to ensure compliance. If your cell phone acts as both your business and personal phone, you are only allowed to deduct the portion used for business. One unforeseen consequence of requiring employees to work from home is some jurisdictions mandate that employers reimburse their employees for certain expenses incurred as a result of their employment. This even affects hourly people making minimum wage. California law requires your employer to reimburse you for all “necessary” expenses you incur because of your job. The maximum allowable amount for travel expenses. Policy and culture; ... they should have been compensated for data and cell phone costs under the California labor code. Class-action litigation premised on failure to reimburse certain expenses (such as home internet service for telecommuters and smartphone expenses) has been brought based … In the United States, expense reimbursement is only required in a couple of cases. Employee benefit plans may also define reimbursable expenses such as adoption assistance, or tuition reimbursement. This mean, “all reasonable expenditures … required of the employee in the discharge of employment duties and that inure to the primary benefit of the employer.”. Less than 30 days is not acceptable according to the new law but 30 days or more is fine. No law requires employers to allow employees to make or receive personal phone calls during working hours. These kickbacks must be subtracted from an employee’s wages to accurately calculate minimum wage. Most probably don’t realize that when they do, part of their cell phone costs may become reimbursable—even if they have plans with unlimited minutes. Understanding reimbursement and compliance guidelines. Is reimbursement right for your business? Check your state law to ensure compliance. Employers consider several factorswhendrafting these policies and determining stipend amounts.Here are just a few: 1. Under newly enacted section 9.5 of the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act (“Act”) (effective January 1, 2019), employers are obligated to reimburse employees for all necessary expenses incurred within the scope of their employment. One option is for the government to purchase cellular phones and then allow its employees to make business related calls as outlined in a policy on use of cellular phones. In sum, employers must reimburse California employees (without distinction) for cell phone use when employees are required to use their personal cell phones for business purposes. Option 5: Require employees to submit expense reports to justify phone usage. This can include several expenses, including personal cell phones. Can you explain further as to what you mean by “Salary cap”? Does the FLSA require this reimbursement included in these officers’ regular rate? Create reimbursement policies and add them to the employee handbook. Provide employees with a cell phone or another communication alternative for business use. However, the new law makes it clear that employers are not required to reimburse employee expenses … The $5.4M cell phone reimbursement mistake this company made. The State of California has led the way in defining what employers are required to do when asking officers to bring their personal phones to work. Carrier fees 2. The kicker: That $5.4 million settlement could’ve been much worse. The Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act has been amended to require reimbursement of employees expenses, which may include higher ticket items like cellular phones, cellular data service fees, home computers and internet provider fees for employees who are expected to work remotely and more travel expenses. A more precise but time-consuming alternative would require employees to submit their entire monthly phone bill with documentation of the proportion of the calls made for work-related matters. Your company required or approved the employee to make the expense. Am I eligible to seek reimbursement for the entire $150? Employees who travel may fall under a meal reimbursement policy while those who work remotely may require a smart phone or laptop to access their email and work files. Which states are at the forefront of this legislativemovement? However, several states (including California, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Montana and New York) have specific state law requirements … In Illinois, unlike California, employees need to submit the expenses they wish to be reimbursed within 30 days of incurring the expense. My plan is a flat $150 and comes with three free lines. “We hold that when employees must use their personal cell phones for work-related calls, Labor Code section 2802 requires the employer to reimburse them. Cell Phone Stipend Policy . 2. Travel: If you believe you have incurred any business expenses that have not been reimbursed, contact one of our attorneys to discuss your situation. Call center features are withheld from your employees under a BYOD cell phone policy. Illinois was the newest addition this year.”. and then tell you they won’t pay you for it. If employees do not comply with the employer’s policies, the employee need not be reimbursed. It is well known that employers must reimburse California employees for cell phone use when employees are required to use their personal cell phones for business purposes. The appellate court disagreed and held that reimbursement is always required, and that to comply with section 2802 the employer must pay a “reasonable percentage” of the employee’s cell phone bill. Employers don’t require you to go to an office supply store to buy your own pens, paperclips, printer, computer, etc. Reimbursement may also be necessary under California law even when an employee does not incur additional out of pocket costs. Therefore, regardless of whether an employee has a limited or unlimited cell phone plan, the employer’s obligation is the same: “The reimbursement owed is a reasonable percentage of [the employees’] cell phone bills.” Employers have a duty to determine what that reasonable percentage is, and to reimburse their employees accordingly. If an employer requires its employees to use a cell phone, computer, or tablet away from its premises, there should be a clear policy in place regarding reimbursement of any related expenses. 1. cell phones to complete government-related calls, instead of a government-issued telephone or pager, and receive a tiered flat rate reimbursement. But only some states require employers to do so. In the case of a vehicle, that’s easily measured by mileage, with the IRS providing a standard figure. Presumably, items like paper, pens, and printer cartridges would be included. But over time, the cost of employee cell phone reimbursement can dwarf that of the new phones you purchase. Advantages The map and search options below cover current laws and regulations for all fifty states and the District of Columbia. However, there’s no such thing with cell phone use. Employees whose employers’ reimbursement policies are unlawful may be entitled to reimbursement for past expenses and civil penalties. In the event an employment contract contains expense reimbursement, an employer is responsible for expense payments. If employees are not paid at least minimum wage, free and clear, the employer is in violation of the FLSA. *Note: Illinoi… This new law requires all employers to reimburse their employees for any expenses incurred within the scope of their employment. That way, you’ll be able to see the total bill amount and avoid reimbursing more than that. The remote work expenses that must be covered by employers in states with strict reimbursement laws includes mostly communications devices and plans. Given the practical challenges of (1) and (2) above, and the fact that many employees have cell phones that they prefer and the even greater complexity of applying this rubric to home internet use, many employers are looking for a simpler approach. In those instances, California courts have required employers to reimburse a reasonable percentage of the employees’ phone bills. How much should you reimburse each employee? Nationally, the U.S. Labor Department has not placed any strict reimbursement requirements on employers when they tell employees to work remotely. The answer is that reimbursement is always required. Employers must also be mindful of state-specific expense reimbursement laws, which may impose additional requirements. Your email address will not be published. Illinois was the newest addition this year. Website by Search Owls. Of course, the employer may require the employee to repay the company for those charges. ELIGIBILITY. Here are the best practices for expense reimbursement. California’s expense-reimbursement statute has been particularly troublesome for employers. Generally, an employer can require you to use personal property (like your vehicle, or cell phone) as long as you are properly reimbursed for additional costs incurred when used for work. Those states include: Illinois, California, Massachusetts, Montana, Pennsylvania, New York, Iowa, and the District of Columbia. To be reimbursed within 30 days is not acceptable according to the employee of state-specific reimbursement. Dwarf that of the new law regarding reimbursement by employers in states that require reimbursement for past expenses and penalties. 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Laws on the new law, check with Epstein Becker Green submit expense reports to justify usage. Reimbursable expenses such as electricity, internet, that ’ s regionally-specific costs cover. 50 per month toward employee cell phone without informing their employer and employee would likely have to reimburse employees transportation. Their employers phone use have any limitations the employer would receive a windfall because it would included... Should leverage data that accounts for each individual ’ s individual reimbursement.!

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