If your employer is not paying for your expenses related to work, you may be entitled to compensation. California Labor Code section 2802(a) requires that employers reimburse employees for reasonable business expenses incurred in direct consequence of the discharge of their duties. That means if you spend money to do your work, your employer should be paying for it. The purpose of the law is to prevent employers from passing on their operating expenses to their employees.
An employer has an obligation to reimburse its employees for costs associated with performing their job functions. Necessary expenditures or losses include all reasonable costs. To demonstrate that an employer has violated Section 2802, a plaintiff must show that: 1 he or she is an employee; 2 he or she incurred necessary expenses either in the discharge of his or her duties or in obeying the employer’s directions; and 3 the employer failed to reimburse the plaintiff for such expenses. For you to recover the expense, your employer must either know or have reason to know that you have incurred the expense.
A common example is when you use your personal vehicle for work. Your employer has an obligation to reimburse employees for all actual, reasonable and necessary automobile expenses. For example, if you are traveling back and forth from work to jobsites during the workday, you should be compensated for using your personal vehicle.
There are three ways you can be reimbursed for automobile expenses: 1 Your actual expenses: If you are going to be compensated for your actual expenses, your employer needs to tell you this and you need to track the expenses and turn in receipts. 2 The IRS mileage reimbursement: If you are going to be reimbursed for mileage, your employer needs to tell you this and you need to track the mileage. Then you will use the current IRS mileage rate for your miles traveled. For 2021, the IRS mileage rate is 56 cents ($0.56) per mile. 3 A flat sum: This amount should cover your expenses, but it can be hard to figure out the right amount. If you think you are losing money, you have the right to compare your actual expenses against the flat sum.
Another example of reimbursable expenses is when you travel for work. Your employer should be paying for your expenses. This can include airfare, rental cars, gas, hotels, meals, and other incidental expenses. If your employer is not paying for these expenses directly, your employer should tell you how to track these expenses so that you can be reimbursed.
Personal cell phone use for work is another area where employers should be reimbursing you for your expenses. Whether you have limited or unlimited minutes, the reimbursement owed is a reasonable percentage of your cell phone bill. You can be reimbursed in a few ways, including a percentage, a flat monthly amount, like a stipend, or your whole bill, if your usage is very high.
If you are not being fairly compensated for your expenses, or are you not being compensated at all, you should talk to an attorney to figure out your rights.
1 Gattuso v. Harte-Hanks Shoppers, Inc. (2007) 42 Cal.4th 554, 561, 571.
2 Labor Code. § 2802(c).
3 Desimone v. Allstate Ins. Co., 96–cv–03606 CW, 1999 WL 33226248, *7 (N.D.Cal. Sept. 14, 1999); Gattuso, supra, at 567.
4 Marr v. Bank of Am., 09–cv–05978 WHA, 2011 WL 845914, *1 (N.D.Cal. Mar. 8, 2011) aff’d sub nom. Marr v. Bank of Am., NA, 506 F. App. 661 (9th Cir.2013).
5 Cochran v. Schwan’s Home Services, Inc. (2014) 228 Cal. App. 4th 1137, 1140.