Expense Reimbursement

The employment law attorneys at Gaines & Gaines help workers throughout California with all of their wage and hour issues, including obtaining recovery for unpaid expense reimbursement.

California Labor Code Section 2802 requires an employer to reimburse an employee for all necessary expenses or losses incurred in direct consequence of the discharge of his or her duties, including driving expenses and cell phone use. The law further provides that the penalty for failing to reimburse an employee includes liability for the expenses plus interest, as well as attorney fees and costs incurred in obtaining reimbursement. Employees can recover up to four years of un-reimbursed expenses.

In most cases, expenses can be easily calculated. However, driving expenses take in more than just gas and include items such as insurance, maintenance, and repairs. There are several different ways in which an employee may be reimbursed for driving expenses:

  • Mileage Reimbursement Method – The employer reimburses the employee for miles traveled based on an agreed-upon rate. The standard rate used is the mileage rate established by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The IRS rate changes periodically; as of September 2012, it is 55.5 cents per mile.
  • Actual Expense Method – Under this method, the employer looks at each and every expense, including fuel, maintenance, repairs, insurance, registration, and depreciation.
  • Lump Sum Method – Under this method, the employer pays a fixed amount based on the employee’s job duties, including the number of miles the employee typically drives in performing those duties. This amount can be added to the employee’s base salary, so long as it is still distinguishable from the salary amount. Also, the amount must be sufficient to fully reimburse for actual expenses.

An employee is entitled to be reimbursed for all driving expenses incurred as part of the job, except for the commute to and from work. Similarly, a salesperson is not reimbursed for traveling from home to the first sales call, or from the last call of the day to home, but must receive reimbursement for all trips and stops in between.

If you are living in California and you are not being reimbursed adequately for the expenses you incur in performing your job duties, contact Gaines & Gaines to speak with one of our experienced labor lawyers.


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