Should My Employer Pay Me for Remote Working Expenses?

  1. EEOC-Employment Law
  2. Should My Employer Pay Me for Remote Working Expenses?

Many modern careers allow remote working from home or another location. However, these employees may incur some restrictive expenses to facilitate their ability to work away from the company building or branch offices. Should your employer pay you for remote working expenses?

Remote Working Expenses and the Law

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not require employers to reimburse remote working employees for any expenses incurred. The only caveat would be if the remote working costs lowers an employee’s earnings below the federal minimum wage. This would be generally rare because most remote working careers pay significantly more than the federal or state minimum wage.

Several states have statutes that require employers to pay for remote working expenses, telecommuting, or other similar situations. For example, The Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act, Section 9.5: Reimbursement of Employee Expenses requires employers to reimburse remote working employees for all necessary expenses or losses, including phone and internet costs. However, employers can specify what they’ll pay for each type of expense. Illinois remote working employees must also submit requests for reimbursement within 30 days of incurring eligible expenses.

Do Some Employers Pay for Remote Working Expenses?

Many employers allowing remote working employees voluntarily cover related expenses. In most cases, this is specified in the employment contract or company handbook. Employers who choose to pay for remote working expenses can set maximum amounts they will pay for specific expenses like cellular service, internet service, and other necessary equipment. They may also choose to provide some of the equipment for remote working, like laptop computers, printers, or smartphones. When this is the case, the equipment remains company property and must be surrendered on request.

If you are allowed to work remotely and your employer does not already pay for these expenses, you may formally request that they pay for at least some of the costs. Sitting down with your supervisor or employer to discuss this matter is perfectly acceptable. Be sure to provide several receipts of these expenses to demonstrate the actual costs you incur for remote working.

What are the Typical Remote Working Expenses an Employer Will Cover?

Remote workers can be reimbursed for expenses they incur for the normal execution of their work tasks. This can depend on their specific duties, but these expenses frequently include:

  • Phone use for work (home or cellular)
  • Internet service
  • Postage
  • Online subscriptions (Zoom, Slack, Teamwork, or other online platforms)
  • Printers, copiers, scanners, and printing supplies
  • Other office supplies, like an ergonomic desk and chair
  • Tablet, laptop, PC, or other equipment

Employers may choose to provide certain equipment or services for remote working employees. They may also pay a lump sum for equipment or other one-time expenses, and/or monthly reimbursements for ongoing expenses like internet service.

These are all items to ask about when investigating new employment with a company that will allow or require remote working duties. Never be afraid to ask how an employer will address expenses you incur for doing your job. You may be able to negotiate some paid expenses for remote working into your new employment contract.

Can I Get a Tax Break for Remote Working Expenses?

Currently, remote working employees who receive a W-2 cannot deduct expenses for a home office. This was suspended by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act through 2025. Contractors and freelancers receiving form 1099 for work they perform can deduct expenses for a home office is the space is used exclusively for business purposes.

Understand Your Rights When Remote Working at Home or Abroad

The COVID-19 pandemic vastly accelerated remote working into the mainstream of numerous industries. However, it is still relatively new to some employers that began allowing it. If you feel you have suffered discrimination as a remote worker or have another issue with remote working, we want to help. The Crone Law Firm is one of the few firms in Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kansas, and the Southeast to focus exclusively on employment law matters. We are passionate about resolving your remote working disputes and using the law to protect your rights.

Contact us at our offices in Memphis, TN, St. Louis, MO, and near Chicago, IL, when you need help with employment law matters like remote working. We offer a free case review to hear your concerns and offer advice about your next steps.

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