HR has yet another new task brought on by the COVID crisis: developing policies for reimbursing remote work expenses. The task isn’t likely to go away anytime soon, given the fact that remote work appears here to stay. In response, savvy HR managers will proactively engage their IT counterparts for help. Especially where technology reimbursements are concerned.
The simple answer is – It depends. Federal law does not require employers to reimburse workers for work-related expenses, except in instances where the total value of those expenses reduces a person’s pay to a level below minimum wage. However, a growing number of states – California, Illinois, and Montana – among them, require full reimbursement of all work-related expenses regardless of any arbitrary wage threshold.
Federal and state laws notwithstanding, it’s still a good idea to reimburse workers for all reasonable expenses they incur working remotely. It is the equitable thing to do. When employers choose not to reimburse work-related expenses, they are essentially asking their workers to take a pay cut. Equitable pay is also a contributing factor to cementing a positive company culture.
IT can be of great help in determining what constitutes reasonable technology expenses. For example, a new or gently used laptop that is required to work remotely would be a reasonable expense. On the other hand, buying a more expensive laptop that exceeds company requirements may not be deemed reasonable. IT’s expertise makes them most qualified to draw that distinction.
Conversely, HR can help IT determine what constitutes reasonable expenses for remote IT workers. Reasonable expenses would include those things IT staff would normally have free access to in the office, printers and headsets, for example. They would not include nonessential items the company would otherwise not provide, such as a special kind of mouse, unless it is deemed medically necessary.
In summary, developing reimbursement policies for remote work expenses is fast becoming a required task for HR and IT professionals. However, when these teams work together, they can develop sensible policies that ensure an organization’s smooth ongoing operations and continue to effectively serve its clients.