Is my employer required to reimburse me for work-related expenses?
The short answer is yes. A recent amendment to Illinois law made it easier for you, as an employee, to get reimbursed for work-related expenses. As with all legal requirements, this is subject to limitations. This article can help answer some questions you may have about the new requirement–or about getting reimbursed more generally.
What’s new with the law regarding employee reimbursement in Illinois?
A recent amendment to Illinois’ Wage Payment and Collection Act, effective January 1, 2019, “mandates employers reimburse employees for necessary expenditures or losses incurred by the employee within the employee’s scope of employment and directly related to services performed for the employer.” This means that, subject to some important limitations, your employer is legally required to reimburse you for work-related expenses.
What is a work-related expense?
Work-related expenses are those that are “necessary” and “directly related” to your work. These expenses would also likely be subject to a “reasonableness” factor. For example, air travel to and from Philadelphia from Chicago for a work conference would be considered “necessary” and “directly related.” However, a first class plane ticket may not be considered “reasonable,” and the employer may be within their rights to reimburse only for the expense of a coach ticket.
What percentage of an expense must my employer reimburse?
It depends. If the employer has a written reimbursement policy, they may be able to reimburse you for less than 100 percent of the expense, as long as the percentage they are reimbursing is “reasonable.” What’s considered “reasonable” is not spelled out in the Wage Payment and Collection Act, and will likely be decided by the courts down the road. The upshot here is to know your employer’s reimbursement policy, if they have one, before incurring any work-related expenses.
How much time do I have to submit expenses for reimbursement?
Under the Wage Payment and Collection Act, you have 30 days from incurring the expense to submit your request for reimbursement and any supporting documentation to your employer. You may have less time under your employer’s written reimbursement policy. If your receipts are missing, lost, or nonexistent, you may submit a signed statement regarding the receipts.
Does my employer have to reimburse me for losses?
In most circumstances, an employer does not have to reimburse you for losses due to your negligence, normal wear, or theft unless the employer’s negligence caused the theft to occur. For example, if you leave a work cellphone in a cab while on a work-related trip and have to replace it, your employer may not be obligated to replace that cellphone. If, however, it is stolen from your office after hours and the employer was responsible for securing the office, your employer may be obligated to replace it.
You are entitled to reimbursement for necessary expenses directly related to your work, and it benefits you to know your employer’s reimbursement policy and the procedures for reimbursement laid out under that policy. Be sure to stay organized and keep any supporting documentation you have for work-related expenses. If you feel you are entitled to reimbursement and your employer is not forthcoming, please contact Nozari Legal. Our initial consultations are free of charge.