Networking

Telecommuting: Who pays for what?

If you are considering a telecommuting position, it's best to know as soon as possible what associated costs will be paid by the employer and what they expect you to pay.

From an email I received from a TechRepublic member:

One thing about finding a job now that I never experienced 8 years ago when I came to my current employer was the possibility of telecommuting. Now, the two jobs I'm interviewing for are both jobs that would require it.

How telecommuting is typically handled in today's market? For instance, who pays for the hardware, internet & phone? How should working from home affect my salary, if it should at all?

It depends on the company. Since telecommuting is required for both positions, you should absolutely ask these questions during the interviews. Get every detail ironed out as soon as you can.

If you are going to use the Internet and the phone for personal use as well, it may be difficult to get the whole thing paid for by the company. They may reimburse part of the expense, however.

Many companies require telecommuters to come in to the office once or twice a month; you'll need to confirm this and whether the company will also pay the travel expenses. Typically, companies pay travel expenses because they consider that travel as a normal business expense, and it is in their best interest for the telecommuter to physically come in from time to time.

There are other issues to be considered as well. As a telecommuter, you may or may not qualify for a home office tax deduction. Be forewarned, however, that the rules as to who qualifies for a deduction, and the calculation for the amount of the deduction have gotten tighter. A good place to start in your research on this topic is with the IRS. Go to the IRS Web site and look for Publication 587. Good luck!

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

5 comments
wesknox
wesknox

Equipment should be purchased by the employer for a number of reasons, including security. Offsite access in cases where applications are ASP or web apps could possibly allow employee equipment (secure browser) access. Internet access should be paid for by the company as the job (if truly remote) will in most cases require it. Telephone may require a dedicated company line depending on the nature of the employment. If so, again the company should pay for this, but the bill should/must be submitted/expensed to enable auditing of appropriate use (no personal calls, period). Cellphones may be different. If possible, the company should provide a dedicated business cell. In cases where a "shared" cell is allowed, the employee should submit cell phone bills and the company should pay for all company calls. In cases where per-call charges cannot be determined (due to banks of hours, etc.) the total cellphone bill should be divided between the employee and employer based on the ratio of total airtime between the employee and employer-related calls. Expense reports are a pain, but this is the only fair approach I've found that addresses equitability and auditability. On the issue of travel to corporate, the HR folks should know that as part of any individual's employment, there must be a defined "base of operation" for the employee. If the employee is truly home-based, they can legitimately (and legally) expense the travel costs to and from the corporate office. If the company employs the individual with a base of operations at the corporate office and "allows" the individual to work from home, the employee may not be entitled to reimbursement of travel expenses from home to the corporate office.

csmith.kaze
csmith.kaze

One thing I have a problem with Telecommuting personally is that I use Linux and OS X only at home. I do not personally own a Windows machine. This could cause some problems with some places, though thankfully my current employer allows me to use gotomypc to remote in to my work computer from home, which works on both OS X and Linux. One reason I hope Web standards will enter the enterprise more, is because it shouldn't matter what OS i use at home. Unless the company wants to purchase a windows computer for me, I will not have one.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Not because they are generous or anything. They don't trust my security, and I don't trust theirs......

amby47
amby47

I have worked from home for over 6 years. From the first, I provided all of my own equipment needed to work. After my computer went down for one day (power supply), I was provided a work computer. Since then the security issue has also been raised. Suits me as I was providing 2 computers for myself - one for work - one for personal use. Now they provide it all for me. That includes Verizon Business FIOS and phone line, and a All In in One printer. I am now happy - I would like dual monitors like they provide for in house employees, but that will come soon...

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Anything else is outright muppetry. I do things on my own PC that I wouldn't do on works one even if it wasn't blocked. They've had problems, thimble brains opning up drive by spam and such, that don't happen on my stuff. Two simple questions. If you get a virus off them, what's your recourse. If you give them one, what's theirs? Doesn't take a lot of thought does it. I would refuse to connect my PC 'directly' to their system even if they were dumb enough to allow me to do so.