Question: We want to put a policy in place regarding reimbursing expenses for telecommuting employees. Specifically, does the company have to reimburse Internet and electricity expenses since the employee is working from home doing company work?
Answer: Establishing a fair reimbursement arrangement with employees for Internet and electricity services is a best practice. Most employees who telecommute will need the use of a computer and related equipment and services. This obviously raises the issue of who pays for the hardware, the software, and any special monthly charges.
In some states, such as California, employers are required by law to reimburse employees for all business-related expenses.
If a telecommuting employee utilizes the Internet to log into work during the day, a best practice is to provide a monthly stipend of a percentage of an employee’s Internet and electricity services. This could be established by reviewing broadband (Internet) and wattage (electricity) use among telecommuting employees to determine an average percentage. Another method would be to review employee statements for utilities with them, and divide the charges by number of hours spent telecommuting, and average this among the employees surveyed to establish percentages for the reimbursement policy. Either way, reimbursement of some of these expenses makes good business sense and is required by law in some states.