Reimbursement for Expenses May Include Cell Phone, Home Internet Use and Related Home Office Costs

Track & Trigger: Work at home reimbursements

Work at Home ReimbursementsWe recently wrote about how employers may not accurately track the hours worked by remote workers, particularly for employees thrust into the “work-from-home” role as a result of coronavirus-related office closures and state and local stay-at-home orders.  To effectively work from home, almost all employees must use their own internet access, cell phones, tablets, or other devices.  In addition to internet and cell phone costs, some employees have incurred expenses to upgrade their equipment (faster laptops, computer cameras, headsets, workspace furniture, etc.) or to pay for subscriptions to services that allow them to participate in video work meetings, sales calls and otherwise perform their duties.

Although federal law does not require employers to reimburse their employees for their necessary expenses, many states do, including:  California, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Montana, New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.  Each state has its own requirements as to what qualifies as a reimbursable expense, and what employees must do to notify their employer of the expense to trigger the employer’s obligation to pay.

If like many of us, you are working from home using your own equipment, internet access, and cell phone plan, you may be eligible to recover those expenses if you live in a state requiring reimbursement.  If you have any questions about reimbursable work-related expenses in your state, please reach out to the Shavitz Law Group at (800) 616-4000 for a free consultation.

YOU EARNED IT, NOW LETS GO GET IT.

Gregg Shavitz, Shavitz Law Group, 951 Yamato Rd Ste 285, Boca Raton, FL and 800 3rd Ave, Suite 2800, New York, NY.  Lawyers licensed in states including FL, NY, NJ, and TX.  The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based on advertisements alone.

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Families First Coronavirus Response Act Brings Temporary Relief to Some Employees

Brief peace during pandemic

Families First Coronavirus Response Act Brings Temporary Relief to Some EmployeesThe legislature recently enacted the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) to help employees and small businesses deal with the economic impact of social distancing and limitations on businesses.  The FFCRA allows certain employees to receive paid sick leave, in addition to protecting their employment under specified circumstances.  Employees who may receive sick leave include those who test positive for the coronavirus or who are ordered to quarantine themselves because of exposure to the virus or are suffering coronavirus symptoms and seeking a diagnosis.  Other employees who may be entitled to sick leave include employees who must stay home to care for someone who tests positive for the virus, or whose children are home due to school or childcare facility closures.  The weekly amount of paid leave and the length of time to which an employee is entitled to leave depends on the circumstances that qualify the employee for paid leave.  For details, you can review a summary of the paid leave benefit on the Department of Labor website at https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-employee-paid-leave.

The FFCRA requires small businesses (those with fewer than 500 employees) to provide this paid sick leave, to keep the employee’s job open for them, and prohibits the employer from taking any actions against the employee in retaliation for taking the sick leave.  Employers also cannot require an employee to use other paid leave before using the paid sick time provided in the new legislation or require an employee to find a replacement to cover his or her scheduled work hours.

There are several exceptions to the FFCRA, so not all employees of small businesses automatically qualify.

If you have any questions about any of these laws or have another workplace issue that you would like to discuss, please contact us for a free consultant at slg@shavitzlaw.com or 800-616-4000.

YOU EARNED IT, NOW LETS GO GET IT.

Gregg Shavitz, Shavitz Law Group, 951 Yamato Rd Ste 285, Boca Raton, FL and 800 3rd Ave, Suite 2800, New York, NY.  Lawyers licensed in states including FL, NY, NJ, and TX.  The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based on advertisements alone.

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Remote Workers Are Entitled to Overtime Pay, Too

Work from home, Work laws apply

Work From Home - Work Laws Apply4.7 million workers across the United States worked remotely on a regular basis, even before the coronavirus pandemic.  Many employees are attracted by the flexibility and freedom that working from home provides.  Similarly, remote employment allows employers to save on overhead expenses and reap the benefit of higher employee work satisfaction.   Now, as a result of the coronavirus, social distancing, and businesses protecting their workforce, the number of employees working remotely has spiked to all-time highs.

With the onset of the coronavirus,  working remotely provides an opportunity for employees to be productive (and not miss a paycheck), but not potentially expose their colleagues while they may be contagious.

However, for employees, there is a downside to working remotely: the feeling that you are always working for – or available to – your employer 24/7/365.  This becomes a problem (and a wage violation) when employers don’t track all the hours their remote employees work.

Overtime laws apply to remote workers the same exact way that they apply to on-site employees.  Employers are legally required to accurately track the hours of their remote employees and pay them for all hours they work, including paying them at an overtime rate for hours worked over 40 in a week.  However, although tracking work time for remote employees is a fairly easy thing to do, many employers don’t track remote employee work time, or they simply pay them for a set number of hours every week (usually 40).  As a result, many remote employees working more than 40 hours a week are not paid for all of their work time and are not paid at an overtime rate when they work over 40 hours.

If you work remotely, be sure that your employer has developed a system to accurately track all hours worked, rather than simply paying a set amount of hours.   As mentioned above, it is common when working from home that your workday exceeds your set Schedule and to thus work “off-the-clock” hours.  To the extent your employer is not properly tracking remote hours worked, call the Shavitz Law Group today at (800) 616-4000 for a free consultation.

YOU EARNED IT, NOW LETS GO GET IT.

Gregg Shavitz, Shavitz Law Group, 951 Yamato Rd Ste 285, Boca Raton, FL and 800 3rd Ave, Suite 2800, New York, NY.  Lawyers licensed in states including FL, NY, NJ, and TX.  The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based on advertisements alone.

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Several States are Broadening Wage Laws to Protect Workers

Find out if you're owed more. FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act)

States BroadeningThe Fair Labor Standards Act is the federal law that requires employers to pay workers the federal minimum wage and requires that employers pay workers 1.5 times their hourly wage for overtime hours worked over 40 hours per week.  However, several states have their own laws that protect workers’ wages and, in many cases, offer protection beyond what the Fair Labor Standards Act provides.  Over the past year, several states have expanded their overtime laws to extend those protections even further.

For example, New Jersey recently expanded its overtime law to allow recovery of unpaid wages going back up to six years, twice as long as possible under the federal law.  New Jersey also now allows the recovery of $3 for every $1 of unpaid overtime owed, while the Fair Labor Standards Act only allows for the recovery of $2 for every $1 of overtime owed.

There are several categories of employees who are “exempt” from the federal overtime rule because they satisfy several requirements related to the type of work they perform and the amount of their pay.  Under federal law, the wage requirement for those exemptions was recently raised to $35,568 per year, meaning that employees making less than that amount qualify for overtime regardless of the type of work they perform.  In Pennsylvania, that requirement is about to increase to $45,500 per year – significantly higher than the federal law, making thousands of workers in that state entitled to overtime who are not entitled to overtime under the Federal law based solely on the amount they make per year.

Other states such as Colorado, Michigan, and California have either passed legislation expanding their overtime laws or have legislation pending or contemplated that will offer expansion similar to what other states have done.  It is important to be aware of increased protections in your state which could affect your entitlement to recover unpaid overtime.

If you have any questions about your entitlement to recover unpaid overtime, please call us. The law requires employers who violate federal wage law to pay the employees’ attorneys’ fees and costs, so we can represent you without any costs or fees paid by you. Call us today at (800) 616-4000 for a free consultation.

YOU EARNED IT, NOW LETS GO GET IT.

Gregg Shavitz, Shavitz Law Group, 951 Yamato Rd Ste 285, Boca Raton, FL and 830 3rd Ave, Floor 5, New York, NY.  Lawyers licensed in states including FL, NY, NJ, and TX.  The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based on advertisements alone.

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