work from home

Lawmakers Considering Ways of Helping Remote Workers Recoup Expenses

A February public hearing is being planned to discuss two bills that could help people be reimbursed for work-at-home related expenses.

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If you’re one of the millions of people working remotely these days, chances are you’ve been using a lot more technology at home than before. But, how much has it cost you?

Addressing this issue, state lawmakers are in the midst of drafting two bills. Both could help alleviate the expenses of workers who’ve been forced to work from home.

Computers, internet, electricity and data usage fees are just some of the expenses many remote employees have incurred.

Some people, like Tobias Mele of New Britain, have been reimbursed for the time he and his wife have needed to work from home.

“Luckily, I’ve been fortunate enough, the company has been supporting me. So, no out of pocket,” said Mele, who explains he’s only worked remotely a portion of the pandemic.

Some others, though, have not been so fortunate.

“I know there are a lot of people that have had to convert some bedrooms and offices at home just to accommodate and I’m sure that cost a lot of money,” said Erica Heyer-Watts of Farmington.

These types of expenses have prompted Connecticut’s bi-partisan labor committee to examine ways to protect those who’ve been affected.

“What if you’re required to purchase a laptop for instance,” asks Labor Committee Co-chair and Democratic State Senator Julie Kushner. “What about the cost of having a higher speed Internet?”

While telecommuting precedes the pandemic, Kushner said these pandemic-related expenses are different.

“There wasn’t a lot of time to prepare or to plan for this or to perhaps negotiate terms and conditions of how that would impact the worker,” she explained.

Kushner said there’s a public hearing expected in February to discuss two bills: one that focuses on reimbursing remote workers for expenses and another requiring employers to provide adequate equipment for those workers.

Finding balance in these bills is also a challenge. Kushner said it is important to craft a bill that helps workers but at the same time does not hurt employers.

“We’ll get the whole picture and make sure that we take all of that into account and have a balanced and appropriate bill,” Kushner said.

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