Expense reimbursement—whether you’re making the request or receiving it—is one of those business tasks that nobody likes, but which there’s no way to avoid. Whatever kind of expenses we’re talking, it’s important that there’s an efficient and reliable process in place—or else you’ll face disgruntled employees and compliance headaches.
An Efficient Expense Reimbursement Process is Essential
There’s many reason an employee might need to claim expenses. These are just some of the categories:
- Business Travel
If employees are required to travel for work, they’ll likely have expenses for accommodation, travel and food costs. Not just for them, either, but perhaps also for clients and customers.
- Business Supplies
If work isn’t always based in an office—and so employees can’t just go to the store cupboard whenever they need materials —employees may need to make purchases themselves.
- Remote Expenses
Working at home means that employees are responsible for internet fees, computer equipment and other office supplies.
Employees need to know what is and isn’t an acceptable expense, before they make the purchase. While what’s acceptable or not may seem obvious to seasoned business travelers, to new employees it could be a whole lot less obvious. How many taxi fares can they expense on a single trip? Will the company pay for an expensive dessert? How many notepads and pens can one employee buy?
It’s a business’s job to set out a clear policy. Often, for business travel, the simplest solution is to offer a per diem, or daily allowance. Of course, life isn’t predictable, and unexpected costs can still arise. After making a purchase, an employee will have to report this, ideally with a receipt, so that it can be verified and fully reimbursed.
Is Reimbursing Employees Legally Required?
Whether an employer must reimburse expense depends on where you operate. While there’s no federal law in place, many states—including California and New York—mandate reimbursement of all necessary business-related expenses. This will any internet or phone packages an employee needs to work remotely.
If you’re operating in a state where there’s no such law, you’ll only be required to reimburse expenses if not doing so means that an employee will fall below the minimum wage. However, if you force employees to pay for business expenses on their own dime, they likely won’t stick around for long.
Reimbursing Remote Employees
This question is likely to come up more and more as business shift to a Forrester paper, remote work is likely to end up 3x more common than pre-pandemic. For this to be sustainable, businesses may have to rewrite expenses reimbursement policies in order to better support remote employees.
Having the right WFH setup is important for productivity and engagement, and buying the right chair, the right desk and a good enough data package doesn’t come cheap. More generous reimbursement can make a big difference.
Paycor is not a legal, tax, benefit, accounting or investment advisor. All communication from Paycor should be confirmed by your company’s legal, tax, benefit, accounting or investment advisor before making any decisions.
Expense reimbursement can cause big headaches if you don’t get your paperwork right. To help employers, Paycor is offering a free employee reimbursement form template.