What expenses do employers have to reimburse workers for?

Employers are required to reimburse employees for expenses that qualify.  In order to qualify for reimbursement, the expense must meet the following requirements:
  • Necessary and reasonable;
  • Incurred in the performance of your job; and
  • The employer knew or should have known were being incurred.
While most people know this commonly includes mileage expenses, companies have an obligation to compensate you for all other expenses that meet these criteria.
This includes work expenses such as:
  • Mileage expenses
  • Airfare
  • Hotel accommodations
  • Conference registration fees
  • Cell phones
  • Uniforms (where clothing is specific)
  • Laptops
  • Tolls
  • Postage
  • Taxi, Uber, Lyft fees
  • Phone and internet charges
Just because you incur the expenses above, does not necessarily mean that you are entitled to reimbursement for it, however.  The expense must still be necessary and it must be reasonable.
For example, if your employer provides you with a computer that is old and slow so you decide to use your personal computer for work-related activities, you are not entitled to a reimbursement because it was not necessary.

What expenses do not qualify for reimbursement?

Employers are not required to reimburse all expenses employees incur.  Common expenses employers are not required to reimburse employees for include:
  • Continuing education
  • Professional license fees
  • Traffic fines
  • Uniforms (involving generic clothing)
  • Meals (during employer required trips)

How much does your company have to reimburse you for work-related expenses?

How much your employer has to reimburse you depends on the type of item and how you use it.  Some items/expenses might only be used or bought for business purposes.  This includes things like airfare to a conference or tolls when driving to a worksite.  Other expenses might be used for both personal and business, like a cell phone, laptop or tools.
Even if you buy or incur an expense on behalf of your employer, the expense still has to be reasonable.  For example, if the company requires you to attend a conference to which you have to fly, and you buy a first-class ticket instead of an economy ticket, the expense will not likely be considered reasonable.  The company would likely have to reimburse you for just the value of the economy ticket, however.

How much does your company have to reimburse you for mileage?

If you drive and use your car for work-related assignments or activities, you are entitled to be reimbursed for the expense. The mileage reimbursement rate is not actually set by law. Instead, a company only has to pay you an amount that is reasonable to compensate you for the expenses incurred. However, most companies and organizations use the IRS mileage rate established by the IRS each year.
ExpenseReimbursement Rate
Mileage expensesReasonable amount
AirfareActual amount
Hotel accommodationsActual amount
Conference registration feesActual amount
Personal cell phoneReasonable amount
UniformActual amount
LaptopReasonable amount
TollsActual amount
PostageActual amount
Taxi, Uber, Lyft faresActual amount
Phone and internet chargesReasonable amount
ToolsReasonable amount
The IRS has established three different mileage reimbursement rates based on either the organization that you are working for or the type of activity that you are performing.

Business Mileage Rate

If you work at a for-profit company, most companies reimburse mileage at the business mileage rate.  The business mileage rate is the IRS mileage rate, which varies from year to year.
YearIRS Mileage Rate
202057.5 cents/mile
201958.0 cents/mile
201854.5 cents/mile
201753.5 cents/mile
201654.0 cents/mile

How to Recover Your Unreimbursed Work Expenses.

While the law about unreimbursed work expenses is straightforward and clear, the most frequent obstacle is proving what is owed.  You should also be aware that you can only recover work related expenses going back four years from the date you file a lawsuit.  To prepare to prove your case, you should collect/keep the following information:
  • All receipts
  • Reimbursement requests
  • Company reimbursement policies
  • Mileage logs (detailing the date, start and end location, odometer/total mileage, purpose of activity)
  • Emails or text messages directing you to buy an item
  • Emails or text message requesting reimbursement
  • Paystubs

Talk to a Work Expense Reimbursement Lawyer

Not all attorneys are created equal.  Do you want someone that aggressively fights for you, that chases every last nickel your employer stole from you and who does not give discounts?  To have the best opportunity for success, you should hire an attorney experienced in work expense reimbursement cases.
These cases require experience and skill. Going up against your employer can feel daunting, but not if you have the help of a knowledgeable attorney by your side. Let us help.

Our work expense reimbursement lawyers are experienced in handling these types of cases.

Drew Lewis, PC, led by its lead trial attorney Drew Lewis, has years of experience representing employees who have had their work expense reimbursement rights violated.
Drew has recovered millions of dollars for his clients. He understands how employers try to hide the facts and how to prove work expense reimbursement cases. And he does not give discounts to employers who have stolen from their workers.
We offer a free case evaluation. And you do not pay us unless we win your case.

Free Case Review

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