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California Employment Lawyers > Blog > Employment > Your Employer May Have To Reimburse You If You Use Your Cell Phone For Work

Your Employer May Have To Reimburse You If You Use Your Cell Phone For Work


Let’s say that as part of your work, your boss requires you to make calls, and some of those calls are made on your own, private cell phone. If you work remotely or in a hybrid situation, a large majority of your work related calls may be made from your personal cell phone, as many employers don’t provide cell phones for employees.

California law requires that employees be reimbursed by their employers, for the work related use of personal cell phones.

Using Your Device

You only get reimbursement if you have to use or are forced to use your own device for work. If your employer provides a phone or other device, and you voluntarily opt to use your own, you would not be eligible for cell phone reimbursement.

You can receive reimbursement even if you don’t pay your call phone bill for example, if someone else pays it, or if you don’t pay by the minute, or even if you don’t actually incur an extra charge for making work related calls from your cell phone.

How Much?

Think of cell phone reimbursement as being akin to mileage reimbursement for the use of a personal vehicle to do work related tasks.

The amount that you must be reimbursed for the use of your personal cell phone to do work related activities can vary from employer to employer, and there is no set time period for reimbursement (some employers will do it on each paycheck, some will just give a monthly amount). There are some general guidelines that both employees and employers should know.

The amount you will be paid will vary depending on how much you use your phone for work, but you can make a common sense evaluation by taking your total cell phone bill, and coming up with a percentage of that bill, as the stipend; many employers will pay between $10-$40 a month.

You have the right to contest the amount provided, if you feel it is too little, or doesn’t adequately relate to the amount of time you are being forced to use your personal cell phone for work related calls.

Look at the Policy

Most employers will have a cell phone reimbursement policy, which specifically states how and why and when your personal cell phone can be used for work, and thus, reimbursed for usage, but some small employers may not.


The reimbursement that you get from your employer for using your own private cell phone is not considered income, and thus, it is not taxable. But to avoid paying taxes, your employer should have a specific policy that details the business reasons for the use of your phone.

Cell phone reimbursement cannot replace your wages, and your employer cannot reduce your normal wages by the amount the employer gave to compensate you for your cell phone usage.

Contact the San Jose employee rights lawyers at the Costanzo Law Firm today for help if you feel you aren’t being paid fully for work you are doing.




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