When I spend my own money for work related expenses, does my employer have to reimburse me?
Yes. You are entitled to be reimbursed by your employer for all reasonable expenses that result from you performing your work duties. This means that if you are working from home, you may be reimbursed for things like cellphone use and office supplies.
Expenses for Travel on the Job
Does my employer have to reimburse me if I use my car on the job?
Yes. When using your car for work, you are entitled to get paid back for the actual cost of using your car. Your employer can reimburse you by paying you for the actual costs of driving. But most employers reimburse workers by paying for each mile driven in the course of your employment duties, or by paying you a lump sum amount. These policies are legal so long as the amount paid as a lump sum, or per-mile basis is more than enough to cover the actual expenses you incurred by using your car.
Although employers are not required to use the mileage reimbursement rate that the Internal Revenue Service uses for federal tax purposes, many employers use that rate to compensate employees for the use of their cars. The standard mileage rate may be found here.
Does my employer need to pay me for commuting to and from work?
No. You are not entitled to compensation for traveling to and from work at the start and end of your shift. You should receive reimbursement for the costs associated with traveling while on the job.
Does my employer have to pay me wages when I have to travel for work?
Yes. Workers are entitled to be paid under California law whenever they are under the control of their employer. If you are required to attend an out-of-town meeting, training session, or any other work event, you are entitled to pay d for the time it takes to arrive at the event, as well as the time you spend at the actual event.
What happens if my personal vehicle is damaged or stolen while I’m on company business?
You should be able to receive compensation if your personal vehicle is damaged or stolen while you were using that vehicle for work, but whether you receive compensation may depend on the specific facts of the case.
For example, your employer may try to argue that if it paid you a per-mile rate for the use of the car, that per-mile rate covered any damages incurred while at work. Your employer might also try to argue that even if your car was damaged while you were working, the damage did not occur as a direct consequence of your work.
Uniforms, Tools, Equipment
Can my employer require me to wear a uniform?
Yes. Your employer can require that you wear a uniform. California law defines a uniform as any “apparel and accessories of distinctive design and color” which an employee is required to wear.
If I wear a hijab, turban, or other religious attire, can my employer require that I take it off?
Generally, no. Requiring someone to remove or cover up a religious article is a violation of your rights under Title VII. There is an exception when the religious garment poses a threat to workplace safety and health, however in these situations an employer may still need to try to provide an accommodation. For more information, please refer to the EEOC’s webpage regarding religious garb and grooming in the workplace.
If a uniform is required, do I have to provide it myself?
Usually, an employer must provide you with your uniform. However, if the uniform can be used in other workplaces in the same field, the employer does not have to provide the uniform. For instance, if a salesperson is required to wear a normal dress shirt, then the employee can be forced to pay for the shirt. However, if the company logo is printed on the dress shirt or if that shirt has a distinctive style or color, that shirt cannot be used at another workplace and the employer must provide it.
Who has to pay to take care of my uniform?
Employees are responsible for normal washing and drying of uniforms. If dry cleaning, or separate laundering is required, the employer must pay for it. Employers must compensate employees for uniform care at the rate of one hour per week at the California minimum wage.
Can my employer make me provide and maintain my own tools and equipment for work?
No. Generally, employers must supply and take care of all tools and equipment that are required by the employer or necessary to do the job. However, there are two limited exceptions:
– If an employee makes at least twice the California minimum wage and that employee works in a recognized trade or craft (e.g., carpentry or plumbing), the employee may be required to provide and care for all hand (not power) tools and equipment usually necessary for that type of job.
– Apprentices and employees of beauty salons, beauty schools that sell beauty products to the public, and barber shops can be required to supply their equipment.
Can my employer require a security deposit for my uniform, tools, or equipment?
Yes. Employers may require a reasonable security deposit, up to the replacement cost of the item. Employees must be supplied a receipt for the deposit and must agree, in writing, to any conditions under which the employer may withhold the deposit. Employers must return the deposit, with interest, upon return of the items. No deductions may be withheld for normal wear and tear.
If I accidentally break or mishandle equipment, can my employer charge me for the damage?
No. If you accidentally break company equipment, or make a simple mistake, your employer has to cover the cost of the equipment.
In very limited circumstances, an employer may deduct the cost of the missing or broken item from an employee’s paycheck. You can only be charged if your employer can show that you stole equipment or that you intentionally broke company property.
Can my employer charge me or discipline me if tools and equipment are stolen from the workplace?
Typically, no. Responsibility for stolen equipment depends on two factors:
– Whether it was practical for the employee to bring the tools and equipment back and forth from home to the workplace each day, and
– Whether the employer requires that the tools and equipment be stored at the workplace.
Generally, if an employer requires that tools be stored at work, or it is too difficult to store them at the employee’s home, then the employer is responsible for the stolen items, even if they belonged to the employee.
What can I do if my employer tries to illegally charge me for uniforms or equipment?
One option you can use to recover expenses your employer should have reimbursed is to file a wage claim with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (also known as the “Labor Commissioner”).
You can also go to court to recover expenses. The Labor Commissioner’s process is normally easier for workers who cannot afford lawyers, and there is no maximum amount you can claim. (If you go to Small Claims Court, the maximum is $10,000. If your claim is for more than $10,000, you can file a claim in Superior Court).
To have the best chance of recovering the money you are owed, try and keep an accurate record of the money you are forced to pay for uniforms or tools; this information will help you if you decide to file with the Labor Commissioner or in court.