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Employers reimbursing work-from-home expenses

Posted at 2:57 PM, Sep 28, 2020

Working from home is new territory for many employers and employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. That has some workers asking to be reimbursed for money they've spent on a home office.

"What has occurred different during the pandemic is now everyone, or many organizations, have folks teleworking. Although there may not be a lot of business travel, there are some organizations that are providing assistance to employees to help with any telework expenses they have," said John Dooney, the HR Knowledge Advisor for the Society of Human Resources Management.

From cell phones to home internet plans, he says employers have become somewhat flexible to ensure their employees have what they need to do their jobs effectively from home.

"And some companies are just providing small stipends on a monthly basis to take care of an additional cost," said Dooney.

AppZen, which provides artificial intelligence on companies' expenses, says during the pandemic, they noticed a shift in what employees were asking to be reimbursed for.

"The ones like travel and hotel obviously went down but items like n95 masks, cleaning supplies, stuff that you’ve never seen on expense reports before started showing up," said Anant Kale, AppZen's CEO.

Kale says some of the most popular items people wanted to get reimbursed varied.

"The items change from company to company based on what they're used to having in their office environment, but the common ones tend to be things around work-related stuff. A monitor they want to buy or a chair or desk or light or lamp they want to use," said Kale.

Dooney says having a clear policy is crucial. He suggests companies create a new policy relating specifically to work-from-home reimbursement expenses.

"Some organizations I’ve seen actually have policies about what won’t be reimbursed. We won’t be reimbursing lawn care or electricity in the house. The clearer you can be, the better it is for an employee. And why is this so? Because everything is new. It's just a different time," said Dooney.

Also, check state laws as some like California, Illinois and New York have regulations when it comes to reimbursing employees work-related expenses.