The practice seems like it could both save employers money and boost employee morale. Therefore, regardless of whether an employee has a limited or unlimited cell phone plan, the employer’s obligation is the same: “The reimbursement owed is a reasonable percentage of [the employees’] cell phone bills.” Employers have a duty to determine what that reasonable percentage is, and to reimburse their employees accordingly. The same rationale applies to a personal cell phone or internet – if an employee must now use their personal cell phone or home internet for work (having no employer-paid alternative), a conservative approach would be to recognize the employer’s responsibility to reimburse for a reasonable percentage of the bill. The lessons here are manifold: If an employer’s policy or practice requires employees to use their personal cell phones for business purposes, it must reimburse them for that usage. In 2014, a California employee brought a class-action lawsuit against their employer on behalf of customer service managers who were not being reimbursed for the costs of work-related calls on their cellphones. So when employers (like yours) adopt a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy, it’s more difficult to determine what additional cost is being incurred, (if any). Some employers have Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies due to perceived productivity gains and cost savings. However, California employers probably are required to reimburse their employees for extra charges, if any, the employees incur in using their personal cell phones … Using the same computer for both tasks makes that hard. Does My California Employer Have to Pay My Entire Monthly Cell Phone Bill? However, there’s no such thing with cell phone use. The Courts and enforcement agencies generally assumed such expenses were incurred for personal convenience, rather than for an employer’s benefit. It means that I generally advise employers to stay away from the danger zone whenever the law is unclear. Even if employees have “unlimited” phone or internet plans, yes. However, many employees possess unlimited phone data and plans, making it difficult to separate the costs for personal and work use. It makes sense, on paper, for both the employer and the employee. If you need a cell phone for work, your employer can insist that you use your own. Thus the stipend. Your employee has a ‘pay as you go’ mobile and you reimburse them for business calls You must report the amount on form P11D . Employer may regulate use or possession of such devices in the workplace; reasonable limitations are common. Employers Must Reimburse California Employees Required To Use Their Personal Cell Phones For Work Related Calls Even If The Employees Incur No Expense. "Employers have had to grapple with this," Altman said. The use of cell phones for work is increasingly popular as employees remain in contact beyond the office or even work remotely. In this regard, there may be uncertainty about whether employers are required to reimburse employees for expenses incurred to perform remote work. In cases where employers, for substantial noncompensatory business reasons, require employees to maintain and use their personal cell phones for business purposes and reimburse the employees for the business use of their personal cell phones, examiners should analyze reimbursements of employees’ cell phone expenses in a manner that is similar to the approach described in Notice … If your employer swings the other way and requires you use your personal phone, the company may reimburse you. Yes, An Employer Must Reimburse Employees for Personal Cell Phone Use. California law requires that employers reimburse employees for “some reasonable percentage” of their cellphone bills if the employer requires them to use their personal cellphones for a business purpose – regardless of whether the employee incurs charges over and above what his or her plan costs. If an employee in California uses a personal cell phone for business-related use (i.e., “in direct consequence of the discharge of his or her duties or his or her obedience to the directions of the employer,”), a California employer must reimburse the employee, even if the employer prohibits the employee from using his or her personal cell phone for business use. For example, this law will require employers to reimburse employees who use their personal cell phones for work-related calls and messages. An employer will be considered to have provided an employee with a cell phone primarily for noncompensatory business purposes if there are substantial reasons relating to the employer's business, other than providing compensation to the employee, for providing the employee with a cell phone. Federal Tax Law Implications. In those instances, California courts have required employers to reimburse a reasonable percentage of the employees’ phone bills. No law requires employers to allow employees to make or receive personal phone calls during working hours. In response to “stay-at-home” orders issued by Governor Gavin Newsom and various California municipalities to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) employers have been asking or requiring employees to work from home. You don’t have to deduct and pay any tax or National Insurance. If they don't cover your expenses, you may get a tax write-off out of it. California Court of Appeals decided in Cochran v. Schwan’s Home Services Inc., 228 Cal.App.4 th 1137 (2014) that if an employee uses his or her own cell phone for work-related calls and messages that the employer must pay “some reasonable percentage of the employee’s cell phone bill.” 3. If you were an employer asking me for my advice, I'd tell you to err on the side of caution and reimburse your employees for a portion of their cell phone use. Schwan’s Home Serv., Inc., Cal. Most employers allow employees to use their own personal cell phones for work purposes. Employers must always reimburse employee for expense of cell phone use even though the employee did not pay additional cell phone fees for using their cell phone for work purposes. There are a number of alternative methods of reimbursement to consider, including offering a set stipend, reimbursing per actual use, or even taking responsibility for the entire bill. By Gayle M. Athanacio, Virginia K. Young and Sharon O. Rossi. Compensation may … This can include several expenses, including personal cell phones. If the employer wants access to the information on their personal computers, they might worry that the employer will be able to access their financial, health, or other personal records. Employers who want or need more control over information maintained on an employee’s mobile device (think financial services and healthcare) are more likely to pay for the device and service charges and to require employees to agree to detailed usage terms. For example, courts have found that employers must reimburse employees who use their cell phones for work-related calls, even if those employees have unlimited phone/data plans and incur no additional expenses as a result of the calls. The employer must have substantial business reasons, other than providing compensation to the employees, for requiring the employees’ use of personal cell phones in connection with the employer’s trade or business and reimbursing them for their use. These expenses include the cost of providing a personal vehicle or a cell phone for work purposes. Similarly, employees might have concerns about privacy. Cell Phones and Other Electronic Devices. These states require employers to reimburse their employees for all necessary business-related expenses, regardless of the employee’s wage . Should I reimburse employees for business use of personal assets? requiring employees to perform work from home, which almost always requires the employee to have access to the internet. In a recent Aon survey of around 1,400 U.S.-based companies, more than 1 in 5 say they are helping to pay for their employees… Employers include stipend as additional wages in W-2 and it is subjected to income tax and employment tax withholding requirements. The remaining options (BYOD, COPE and reimbursement) exclude cell phone reimbursements from wages, thereby contributing to tax-saving. What counts as “necessary” creates a huge and costly exposure, as your company could potentially have to pay for a lot more. No. In a recent published opinion, the California Court of Appeal in Cochran v. One unforeseen consequence of requiring employees to work from home is some jurisdictions mandate that employers reimburse their employees for certain expenses incurred as a result of their employment. (BTW: In California, employers are required to reimburse employees regardless of additional cost or not). Prior to the pandemic and resulting quarantines, employers who permitted, but did not require, employees to work from home generally were not obligated to reimburse employees for the use of their home computer, internet and/or cell phone. Ct. App. This new law requires all employers to reimburse their employees for any expenses incurred within the scope of their employment. California employers must reimburse their employees for all costs they incur in performing their jobs. If they live in California, Illinois, Iowa, Montana, or D.C., yes. In 2014, a California Court of Appeal held that employers are obligated to reimburse employees for a reasonable percentage of their cellphone costs, even when the employees do not incur any extra expenses in connection with their work-related cell phone use. The lessons here are manifold: If an employer’s policy or practice requires employees to use their personal cell phones for business purposes, it must reimburse them for that usage. The case was based on unfair business practices and labor code violations. Company-issued cell phones can have any limitations the employer cares to impose. Mobile stipends are payments made to employees to compensate them for the use of their personal mobile phone for work purposes. The employees think they'll save money on their phone bills. Use an automated expense … In some cases, the organization may provide compensation for the employee’s purchase of a new smartphone itself, but in most instances, stipends are monthly payments that are intended to cover some or all of the user’s cellular service plan. The employer thinks he'll save money by outsourcing hardware costs to the employees. In contrast, California courts have required employers to reimburse a reasonable amount of cell phone expenses based on the employee’s actual use of a personal cell phone for work-related purposes. Employers that do not require employees to use personal cell phones for business should review their cell phone policies and practices to be sure they make clear that business use of personal cell phones is not mandatory and that listing a cell phone number as a means of contact is optional. Illinois employers may wish to take a conservative approach and follow suit. Others provide, or reimburse for, both the phone and the cost of a data plan. Essentially, these are laws requiring companies to reimburse employees for “necessary expenditures” incurred on the job. These days, employers are increasingly . Many businesses prefer providing staff with company phones. That doesn't mean that you, as an employee, have a slam-dunk, though. 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