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What expenses should my employer pay if I work from home?

Working at home can save employers costly corporate rents and can give employees some much needed flexibility in balancing their work and private lives, for example, by eliminating commutes. But when you work from home, make sure your employer reimburses your expenses.

Q. I have started a new job under the assumption that I would be working out of my employer's home-based office for about four months. Now he is telling me I need to work from my home. I have an associate's degree with over five years of experience in the administrative and HR fields. I am doing accounting, HR, business development, project administration, and travel coordination. He thinks I am doing a great job.

I only make $28,000. Should I ask for a raise? Since I am working from home and using my own computer and materials, I think he should increase my pay. He doesn't pay for any of my extra expenses, not even mileage when I have to travel. How should I approach him about compensation?

A. The first step is to determine how much you're worth, using the Salary Wizard. The basic report will tell you approximately what this type of job pays in your area, and the premium report will give you an idea of your specific market value given your skills and experience.

Having established the appropriate rate for your job, the second step is to separate your cost of labor from the cost of providing your labor to your employer. Calculate the business expenses you can reasonably charge to your employer. For example, call your electric company and ask for an estimate of the cost of running a computer eight hours a day, five days a week. Ask your employer to set up a corporate account at an office supply store, so that you don't have to use your own money to purchase pens, paper, and other supplies.

Finally, it is entirely appropriate for your employer to pay for your mileage when carrying out tasks for his company. To find out the cost of mileage, call your local chamber of commerce or American Automobile Association.

Again, in your conversation with your employer, separate your salary from the cost of doing business from home. In other words, you're negotiating both your salary and your expenses.

Good luck.

- Erisa Ojimba, Certified Compensation Consultant

Copyright 2000-2004 ©, Inc.

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