California law requires employers to reimburse their employees for all necessary expenditures and losses incurred as a direct consequence of the employment or at the employer’s direction.  The most straightforward and basic example is the employer’s obligation to reimburse its employees’ mileage that was incurred in the course and scope of employment (not mileage incurred traveling to and from work).  Another example that oftentimes gets overlooked is the reimbursement of an employee’s cell phone use. Many employers have a “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) policy (written or unwritten) that requires employees to use their own personal cell phones for work.  If an employee has to use his/her own phone for work, or does use it for work with the employer’s knowledge, then the employee must be reimbursed.  In a BYOD situation, the employer is required to reimburse the employee for a reasonable portion of their cell phone bill (the employer need not reimburse the total amount of the cell phone bill).  Alternatively, the employer may provide its employee with a company phone on the company plan.  Significantly, the employer’s obligation to reimburse its employees for expenses has no bearing on whether the employer approved the expense or not. 

One exception to the reimbursement rule is notable.  Employees whose wages are at least two times the minimum wage may be required to provide and maintain their own hand tools and equipment customarily required by the trade or craft (screwdriver, hammer, toolbox, etc.).  This exception does not apply to power tools – employers in those trades or crafts must provide their employees with power tools no matter how much the employee is paid. 

If you believe you are not being properly reimbursed for business-related expenses, you should consult with an experienced labor and employment attorney to help you get your recovery.