Employers often cause or require their employees to incur work-related expenses. The most common types of work-related expenses that employers require their employees to incur are purchasing tools, buying or maintaining a uniform, paying for telephone hardware or software, and driving their own vehicle for work duties. When this happens, an employer must provide reimbursement to the employees in a manner that fairly compensates them for their out-of-pocket expenses.
For example, if you work as an employee of a collections company that expects you to drive to customers’ houses to collect on unpaid debts, then that company should be paying you either for the actual cost of your gas, a fair amount for the mileage you incur, or provide you with some sort of allotment that otherwise fairly compensates you for your driving. Moreover, if you are expected to use your own telephone and pay for telephone service to communicate with your employer while making these collection calls, your employer may have to reimburse you for some or all of the hardware or software costs of your telephone.
In another example, if you work for a hospital and, as part of your duties, you need to buy scrubs with the name of the hospital on it (or otherwise purchase a uniform that cannot be worn at a job with another hospital or employer), the hospital needs to pay you for the cost of that uniform. If they require you to put down a deposit for the uniform, you need to be paid back your deposit at the end of your employment with interest that accrued throughout your employment. And, if your job duties at the hospital are those that would cause contaminants (such as blood or other pathogens) to end up on your uniform, then the hospital may have to pay for your separate laundering of that uniform or launder it for you.
Let’s take one more example, this time of an alarm company employee who is sent out from home to home using a company car with a company gas card to perform repairs on alarm systems. However, this alarm company employee requires various tools, including a hammer, a screwdriver, various nails and screws, and various forms of wiring to do his or her job. Although the company owes no amounts to the employee for mileage because it is providing the car and the gas for the employee, it must provide that employee with the tools it either expressly mandates that he or she carry or those that it knows are reasonably necessary for him or her to perform the job. In this case, then, the employee may be eligible for reimbursement for the hammer, screwdriver, various nails and screws, and various forms of wiring he or she needs to do his job whether or not the company expressly mandates that he or she take these tools with him or her to the job site.
California law thus is designed to prevent employers from passing their operating expenses on to their employees. If you feel you have a case or issue regarding expenses that you were forced to pay, give Los Angeles Reimbursement Attorney David Bibiyan and his staff a call.