Internet earnings laws


To embed, copy and paste the code into your website or blog: Home-bound employees must use their home internet to perform work, but is it reimbursable?

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In a handful of states, employers must reimburse employees for all expenditures incurred in performing their duties at home. In California, that can include home internet bills. This was true before the pandemic.

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How much reimbursement is enough when employees are using their home internet for personal reasons? Can the reimbursement be made in a lump sum? How quickly must reimbursements be made?

Although telecommuting during a public health crisis presents obvious benefits, it also presents employers with unique challenges, such as ensuring compliance with applicable expense reimbursement laws. Employees working from home may incur any number of expenses — home computers, printers, Internet service, WiFi connections, smartphones and even paper, pens and other office equipment. Under federal law, employers are generally not required to reimburse employees for their business related expenses. This prohibition applies with equal force during a public health crisis.

Helpful guidance follows, but here are internet earnings laws highlights: Employers should reimburse home-bound employees for at least a reasonable percentage of their home internet expenses; risk-averse employers may choose to reimburse the entire home internet bill. If paying a percentage of the bill, employers should explain internet earnings laws calculation method to employees when they receive the reimbursement payment.

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Employers may reimburse home-bound employees for internet expenses in one lump sum. There is no specific deadline for reimbursement of business expenses; employers can wait to pay until employees return to work, although waiting may entail some legal risk.

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How much reimbursement is enough? While the law is unclear and risk remains, it may be acceptable to reimburse home-bound employees only for a reasonable percentage of their home internet expenses, not the entire bill.

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Risk-averse employers may choose to reimburse the entire home internet bill. As a comparison, in the cell phone context, courts have held that reimbursement of expenses is always required regardless of whether the employee has an unlimited cell phone plan, a third-party payment plan, or the employee incurs extra expenses by using their personal cell phone.

By Phil Nicolosi, J. Specific earnings and income claims entice the customer. These claims are often made in connection with offering business opportunities and with MLM plans online. Misleading earnings or income claims are deceptive and illegal in general under Section 5 of the FTC Act. But, they pose other concerns in connection with offering business opportunities and in selling MLM type plans.

Employers may reimburse home-bound employees for internet expenses in one lump sum, as long as the payment fully reimburses the employee for the actual expenses. The employer must provide this information to the employee at or near the time of payment. There is no specific deadline for reimbursement of business expenses.

Unless exempt, employees covered by the Act must receive overtime pay for hours worked over 40 in a workweek at a rate not less than time and one-half their regular rates of pay. There is no limit in the Act on the number of hours employees aged 16 and older may work in any workweek. The Act does not require overtime pay for work on Saturdays, Sundays, holidays, or regular days of rest, unless overtime is worked on such days. The Act applies on a workweek basis. An employee's workweek is a fixed and regularly recurring period of hours — seven consecutive hour periods.