More workers conducted their employer’s business at home since 2020 and full-time work at a central workplace may not return. Employees should know their legal rights while working away from their employer’s on-site location.
California law, section 9802 is an important legal protection in wage and hour disputes and also governs remote workers. It requires reimbursement for all their necessary expenditures or losses incurred by an employee while performing their duties for their employer or acting under their employer’s direction.
Typically, reimbursement should cover any costs incurred such as using a personal vehicle for business or reasonable costs associated with using a personal cell phone for their employer even if the employee has unlimited minute plan.
Expenses incurred while working at home may be reimbursable. These include:
- Plans for cellphones and landlines
- Internet plans
- Computers or tablets
- Software or hardware for teleconferencing
- Work supplies
It is debatable whether employees are entitled to reimbursement for other costs such as higher-speed internet, larger computer monitors or special ergonomic chairs unless these items are required by their employer.
The paystub must contain a separate line for reimbursement. Employers should establish reasonable reimbursement amounts and present this as a monthly reimbursement to their employee. Employees can dispute compensation amounts by presenting a breakdown of their expenses.
Wage and hour
If remote workers are not exempt from hourly wage requirements, they must comply with wage and hour rules as if they were working on-site. They need to keep a timecard and take regulated rest and meal breaks. Employees are still entitled to overtime wages if they work over 8 hours per day or 40 hours per week.
The unique work from home environment, however, poses challenges. For example, it is more complicated to manage wages for a remote worker who takes off time to assist their children with schoolwork, run errands or take care of other personal matters.
There are other issues for workers who work in a different state or city from their employer. The wage and hours of the state and locality where the remote worker is located. This may involve different payroll taxes and deductions.
A remote work agreement may outline the specifics of a remote work situation. It should include work hours, meal and rest break requirements and compliance with time keeping requirements. It may also address existing policies that stay in effect, confidentiality provisions and the employee’s responsibility of safeguarding company property.
Attorneys can assist you with assuring that your employment rights are protected at home. They may also advise you of your entitlements under California law.