California Mileage and Other Expense Reimbursement
In the experience of our California labor law attorneys, the area of California mileage reimbursement is one of the most abused by employers. Pursuant to California Labor Code 2802, non-commuting (i.e. travel from job site to job site) mileage must be reimbursed by the employer if the employee is driving their own vehicle and the mileage is incurred in the discharge of the employee's duties. In most instances, employers do not have to provide California auto mileage expense reimbursement to employees for driving from their home to the workplace.
California employees sometimes refer to California mileage reimbursement as the California mileage reimbursement rate, but in actuality there is no California state approved mileage reimbursement rate. The Department of Labor Standards Enforcement in California indicates that the IRS rate, as of this writing is 58.5 cents per mile, and this can be used as a guide. If an employee seeks assistance from the California Labor Board, reimbursement for mileage will be determined by an administrative judge and the decision can be appealed. Many employees, instead, have sought the services of a California labor law attorney for enforcement of the California mileage reimbursement regulations. While enforcement of California Labor Code 2802 may take place at the California Labor Board, mileage laws can be complex and may best be handled by a qualified California labor laws attorney.
Under California Labor Code 2802, mileage is not the only reimbursable expense, but also cell phone, certain tools, home computer if used for work, and internet connection to the extent it is used for work. Employees that are required to work from home may also incur reimbursable expenses for office supplies, ink cartridges, fax machine usage, and perhaps even an allocation of living space dedicated exclusively to office use to perform their employment duties.
In a recent California Supreme Court case entitled Gattuso v. Harte-Hanks Shoppers, Inc. the courts ruled that under California labor laws, employers may increase the compensation to employees in lieu of expense reimbursement instead of directly complying with California gas mileage reimbursement requirements, so long as such increase in compensation clearly shows what portion of the compensation is attributed to labor and what portion is attributed to mileage expense reimbursement. Notwithstanding this ruling, under California Labor Code 2802, and other labor law, mileage reimbursement and all other expenses must still be paid that relate the employee's job duties. Although this case provides a new twist for employers to follow, many still do not follow the regulations and the abuse continues. California labor laws for travel expenses are clear, whether enforced by a California labor law attorney or the California Labor Board, expenses related to the discharge of the employee's duties must be paid by the employer.
In order to prove up California mileage expenses, employees are encouraged to keep a mileage travel log indicating the date, starting location and each location traveled to while working, in addition to the miles driven for each of these trips. California mileage reimbursement can add up quickly so keeping a California mileage expense log is critical to the recovery of these business travel expenses. Outside salespeople and IT professionals use their personal cars more often than most professions and as such, should be wary of employer abuse. Just because one type of employee may be paid a higher wage than perhaps other types of employees, does not mean that they are not legally entitled to California mileage expense reimbursement.
If you feel that you have been incurring reimbursable mileage expenses, or other travel or related business expenses that are not being properly reimbursed by your employer, it may be wise to seek the legal advice of a California labor laws attorney regarding a potential claim.