As many employees throughout the United States continue to work remotely from home, Israeli companies should be aware of certain obligations they may have with respect to covering the home office and other remote working expenses of their United States employees. For more information regarding these obligations, please reach out to GT Tel Aviv Labor & Employment Shareholder Meira Ferziger. The article below was prepared by GT California attorneys and addresses requirements for the State of California.
Amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, a vast number of California employers have shifted their workforces from on-site work environments to “work from home” arrangements. As a result, many California employees and employers are grappling with the new normal: work from home business expenses. In California, employers must reimburse employees for necessary and reasonable business expenses. L.C. 2802. But, what does this mean in the unprecedented COVID-19 era?
In general, employers need only reimburse employees for “necessary” and “reasonable” expenses—there is no requirement to reimburse expenses that are incurred voluntarily. When an employee is permitted to work from home, but is not required or encouraged to do so, the employer generally is not required to reimburse the employee for associated expenses when the employee could avoid them by going to work.
In a COVID-19-regulated environment, when employers require their employees to work from home–even if such a requirement is mandated by a shelter-in-place order–they may need to reimburse those employees for expenses incurred while carrying out their duties at home. This might include, for example, expenses for personal cell phones, Wi-Fi, office equipment, and supplies. Employers should consult with legal counsel to determine whether COVID-19 regulations require them to enter into mandatory work from home arrangements with employees. For example, some orders provide that essential employees who can perform work remotely should do so rather than go to the office or other work site.