Since March of 2020 (has it really been a year?!), the Governor has ordered employers to allow employees to work from home if they can in many industries.  Many other employers have just decided to do it anyways.

Working from home has been far from a temporary thing; it’s THE thing.

But what about providing equipment to work from home?  What about internet service? A printer? Printer ink? A desk? A ergonomic chair?

Many employers are providing some type of help, offering computers and other office equipment.  But where’s the line between something being “required” to do the work and something that is “helpful” to do the work?

Some states have already figured out where the line is and have required employers to reimburse employees for all sorts of home office expenses.  (I’m looking at you California, Illinois, Massachusetts and others.) The Connecticut General Assembly is now considering a bill to do the same.

House Bill 6536 is up for a public hearing this Thursday March 4.  You can find the text of the bill here. 

The bill would require employers to reimburse an employee for all “necessary expenditures” incurred by the employee “within the employee’s scope of employment and directly related to the services performed”.

What is a necessary expenditure? According to the bill it would be:

“[A]ll expenditures required of the employee by the employer, in the discharge of employment duties that inure to the primary benefit of the employer, including, but not limited to, the cost of purchasing:

(A) Equipment and technology, including, but not limited to, items such as computers, printers and cellular phones;

(B) services, including, but not limited to, services such as internet provider services, mobile internet access services and cellular telephone services; and

(C) employment-related supplies such as paper and printer ink and toner.

Necessary expenditures do not include

(i) expenses agreed to be borne by the employee prior to an assignment to work from home;

(ii) expenses or losses due to an employee’s own negligence, normal wear, or theft, unless the theft was a result of the employer’s negligence; or

(iii) expenses indirectly related to the employee’s scope of employment, such as costs related to traveling to and from the employee’s regular work location.”

It’s more complicated than this, of course. There are further exceptions if the employer has a “written expense reimbursement policy which the employee has reviewed and agreed to” and if the employer did not “authorize or require” the employee to incur the expenditure (which seems kind of obvious since by definition an expenditure is only necessary if it is, in fact “required”.)

It’s still too early this session to know whether this will pass or whether it just makes for good publicity. But the CBIA and other business groups are keeping an eye on it.

You should too.