worker's rights (United States; Oregon, California) 

I did a little reading on whether employers can require employees to spend money on equipment necessary to do their job. In recent years this comes up with "bring your own device" policies for portable computing, but the same idea applies to a broad range of tools and industries.

It turns out whether an employer can require an employee to bear the cost of equipment necessary to do their job varies by State!

re: worker's rights (United States; Oregon, California) 

United States OSHA only applies to equipment necessary to protect employees from job-related injuries and illness; there's no federal requirement to do something analogous for most other job-related equipment.

Show thread

re: worker's rights (United States; Oregon, California) 

In Oregon, employees "may be required to purchase required items as long as a purchase does not have the effect of taking an employee below minimum wage in any pay period."

So as long as you can pay for everything required to do your job, during the pay period in which it's required, and that doesn't put you below minimum wage, that's a legal thing for an employer to ask here.

source: oregon.gov/boli/TA/Pages/T_FAQ

Show thread

re: worker's rights (United States; Oregon, California) 

I have no idea what happens if you can't pay for it up-front under those conditions, but there exists an option to use some payment plan that spreads the cost over multiple pay periods, possibly at added expense (loan fees, interest, etc).

Guess that's a question for a lawyer.

Show thread

re: worker's rights (United States; Oregon, California) 

Other footnote: The maximum length of a pay period in Oregon is 35 days. And the statues say something about them being "regular", so if everyone _usually_ gets paid every two weeks, but your employer tries to make your pay period 35 days this time to get you to cover a big expense ... I Am Not A Lawyer but that sounds Questionable to me.

Show thread

re: worker's rights (United States; Oregon, California) 

Another Oregon-specific note: An employer may not deduct such an expense from your paycheck.

They might make a paycheck deduction sound like a good idea, e.g. "otherwise you'll have to spend money on a hammer before payday!"

but I think what that prevents is them saying "You'll need to use this hammer, and it costs, uh, $500, so this hammer is yours now and we'll pay you $500 less for the work you do this week."

Show thread

re: worker's rights (United States; Oregon, California) 

California requires employers to take much more responsibility for necessary expenses!

Employees much be reimbursed for "all necessary expenditures."

dir.ca.gov/dlse/FAQ_Deductions (cites labor code 2802)

and Wage Orders of the Industrial Wage Commission say:

> When tools or equipment are required by the employer or are necessary to the performance of a job, such tools and equipment shall be provided and maintained by the employer

w/ caveats

Show thread

re: worker's rights (United States; Oregon, California) 

The Wage Orders vary by industry (there are 17 versions!), and that section doesn't apply to persons employed in "administrative, executive, or professional capacities" and I think "professional" is a really unfortunate choice of words there given that the line DIRECTLY before that reads

> This order shall apply to all persons employed in professional [...] and similar occupations

so I guess a person can be employed in a professional occupation in either a professional or non-professional capacity?

They do define all these things.

Show thread

re: worker's rights (United States; Oregon, California) 

The other caveat to that "equipment shall be provided" line is

> except that an employee whose wages are at least two (2) times the minimum wage provided
herein may be required to provide and maintain hand tools and equipment customarily required by the trade or craft.

"customarily required by the trade" sounds like it could have a lot of room for interpretation, so maybe that's something for case law.

Show thread

re: worker's rights (United States; Oregon, California) 

One important California ruling happened in 2014, in the case of Cochran v. Schwan's Home Service:

> Does an employer always have to reimburse an employee for the reasonable expense of the mandatory use of a personal cell phone, or is the reimbursement obligation limited to the situation in which the employee incurred an extra expense that he or she would not have otherwise incurred absent the job? The answer is that reimbursement is always required. Otherwise, the employer would receive a windfall because it would be passing its operating expenses onto the employee. Thus, to be in compliance with section 2802, the employer must pay some reasonable percentage of the employee's cell phone bill.

Show thread

re: worker's rights (United States; Oregon, California) 

That's right: if your job in California requires you to use your personal phone, your employer should be reimbursing some nonzero part of your phone costs, on top of any wages.

This is probably part of the reason why it's such a big hecking deal for California to classify drivers of ride-hailing companies (or Transportation Network Companies) as employees: California is much more serious about not pushing operating expenses to employees.

Show thread
Follow

re: worker's rights (United States; Oregon, California) 

tl;dr: Is it legal for an employer to require you to pay for the things they require you to have to do your job for them?

Not always! Check local labor laws. Especially if you're at or near minimum wage. Especially if California laws may apply!

If it's not in law, it's also a reasonable thing to put in an employment agreement! So also check with your union rep to see if they've negotiated for these sorts of protections in your contract.

Sign in to participate in the conversation
Toot.Cat

The social network of the future: No ads, no corporate surveillance, ethical design, and decentralization! Own your data with Mastodon!