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I have a friend who works for a company part-time (paid hourly) doing marketing/website work. Occasionally, his boss will have him make trips to the store to get office supplies or go do some marketing task somewhere. Most of the time he does not mind doing this since it is close.

However, lately he has been having to do this more often and the trips themselves have been up to 8 miles one way. He wants to tell his boss "no" or at least somehow be compensated for the gas. After all, he has an old car and the depreciation costs do add up fast if he is having to do this multiple times per week.

Not necessarily getting into any legal matters as that would be outside the scope of this website, what are some options he can do in approaching his boss about this situation? Keep in mind, he does not have a lot of "weight" at the company since he is part-time and his job can be replaced fairly easily.

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3 Answers 3

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I have seen people change companies around on an unsupported reimbursement. The trick was actually data. In the case I'm thinking of it was cell phone records. While company policy was not to reimburse for cell phone use and cell phones were provided by the company only at a certain high level, I saw this get changed by somone who took the call list from his cell phone bill for 3 months, highlighted all the work related calls (nearly all of them) and showed them to his boss. He got reimbursement and the company picked up his cell phone policy.

I'd offer that similar might be possible here - have your friend track his mileage each day. On days with a pickup, note the event. After a few weeks, tally up the total mileage per week or month and the additional mileage that was added as a result of running errands. Figure out added costs using this as a percentage, and make sure you are comprehensive, presumably he's racking up:

  • gas - average gas price * mpg * miles traveled for errands
  • wear and tear on the vehicle - public sites will offer depreciation on vehicles, + cost of maintenance * the % of mileage for work vs. total mileage.
  • a % of his car insurance. - insurance per month * miles for work/total miles

Find a figure and ask for reimbursement.

It's also a good point of reference... the $ involved for something like this can have little to no relation to the annoyance factor. Finding a dollar amount may result in either your friend having a very good case for why he should get some decent compensation, or he'll realize that it seriously isn't worth the battle over such a small amount of money - either way, the perspective helps.

Granted, I can see that the more value you provide to the company, the easier it will be to get a friendly ear for the cause. So a minor caveat would be - as a dispensible employee, anything you can do to become more indispensible is a worthwhile effort...

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I dont think it would be good for an employee to be running up a "credit" with the company that they can try and claim at their convenience. These trips obviously started as favours but have evolved in to something more. The issues raised need to be brought immediately before OP has an accident while driving for work and finds out he is not insured and gets his license revoked. –  Dunhamzzz Feb 20 '13 at 11:32
    
I would advise looking at it as a "credit". Realize that when you take on a favor, you are not likely to get reimbursed. But the general definition of a "favor" is that it isn't so hard or expensive to provide - so when something moves beyond "favor" into real work, you'll need some sort of data to prove that it IS a big deal, and SHOULD be reimbursed. Figure you won't get paid for the backlog, but that you're resetting the expectation for the future. –  bethlakshmi Feb 21 '13 at 16:26
    
You'd probably want to stick with the IRS set rate for mileage. –  Andy Feb 8 at 0:10

There is an important point that gets missed by many people if he is doing this on a regular basis. Most people's vehicle insurance does not cover its use for business purposes. Getting to and from your work is OK, but if he is doing this regularly as part of his work, then he might find his insurance doesn't cover him for those trips. If your friend has an accident he might find he isn't covered, and in extreme cases might be charged with illegal driving (depending on jurisdiction).

I don't see anything in the question about him asking to be reimbursed for mileage. Unless the company is very small, there will be a system for making business expense claims. Find out what it is, fill in the form for the miles driven, and see what happens. I wouldn't even bother asking my boss about it - just do it. It's a normal part of business, and his boss might have just assumed he will claim the mileage. Make sure your friend has a detailed record of miles driven - for each trip note where he went, how far, and what he was going to get; wait until he has a good number of trips done and cliam them all at once, so it isn't a trivial amount. With any luck your boss won't even know until its been paid.

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What sort of insurance do you have that makes it illegal to drive your while at work. I have never heard of that. –  Ramhound Feb 19 '13 at 17:14
    
I have insurance that insures me to drive for personal, recreation and leisure use only. In my experience so do most people, unless they have paid extra to drive as part of their work. –  DJClayworth Feb 19 '13 at 17:17
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It's one of the main questions when applying for insurance. It affects your rates. @Ramhound I would take a look at your policy, it with either specifically exclude business, or specifically include personal, recreation, liesure. –  Randy E Feb 19 '13 at 17:44
    
@Ramhound - No one said it was illegal. What we are talking about is auto insurance companies excluding work use of vehicles. This is very common. For instance, you can't use your car for a taxi service without a business auto insurance policy. –  Wesley Long Feb 7 at 20:23
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@Ramhound - depending upon the jurisdiction there may be legal requirement and there is no mention of jurisdiction.Take this quote from the (US) New Jersey State website: It is important to realize that you are breaking the law if you drive uninsured. The penalties for driving uninsured are getting more severe — in addition to risking economic loss by not having insurance protection, you risk fines, suspension of driver's license or registration and even time in jail. In the future, your car could be impounded if you are caught behind the wheel without coverage. –  Preet Sangha Feb 7 at 22:15

In the US, you can claim the mileage on your taxes. The IRS usually adjusts the rate in August. You do need to keep records in case you're audited.

If the company is reimbursing, it's typically done on a per-mile basis, using the IRS rate or sometimes something lower. If the company doesn't reimburse at the IRS rate, you can claim the difference on your taxes.

Important point: If the store is directly on the route from home to work, and you stop there on the commute, you can't claim the mileage. If you get to work, then are sent back out (and return to the office), you can claim that.

If the company isn't willing to reimburse at the time of the expenses at all, it's probably best to let it go and just claim it on April 15th. If you're "easily replaced", you'll be replaced by someone who doesn't complain about making a couple 16-mile trips each week. On an "old car", most of the depreciation has happened, your primary expenses will be gas & maintenance.

If your friend is outside the US, all of the above is probably void.

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