California employers must reimburse some utilities for those working from home

California employers must reimburse necessary expenses for employees working remotely, according to contributing columnists at The Press-Enterprise.

The pandemic has forced many businesses to transition to an at-home workforce to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. Now, many companies, including Facebook and Twitter, are giving employees the choice of sticking with remote work permanently.

Under state labor laws, employers must reimburse employees for any expenses necessary to fulfill their job duties.

This includes internet, cell phone or landline expenses, for example, if those tools are necessary for the employee to do their job, wrote columnists Damian Moos and Kandice Kim, lawyers at Best Best & Krieger LLP, citing California Labor Code Section 2802.

The laws are designed to prevent employers from passing on these basic operating expenses to their employees.

Employers that fail to reimburses these expenditures are liable for any expenses employees incur and other fees, and may even be charged with civil penalties by the Labor Commissioner.

Additionally, employers must pay workers for every minute worked, even as working from home can make exact schedules more difficult to monitor.

Also, any technology used to monitor remote employees must be disclosed. This includes any data collection to track productivity or hours.

The Press-Enterprise serves the Inland Empire in Southern California, including Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

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