Is it ethical to receive a reimbursement for purchasing something that helps you perform your job but was not ordered by your boss to purchase if you don't work exactly 8 hours everyday as a salaried employee?

  • 2
    Do you mean business reimbursement or payment of salary? The former is usually used to mean things like the business pays for your travel, or pays you back for a computer you purchased for work, etc. the latter is your paycheck.
    – Damila
    Jul 11, 2022 at 20:03
  • 1
    If you have to ask whether something is ethical, the answer is almost always no.
    – Gh0stFish
    Jul 11, 2022 at 20:37
  • 3
    Ghost fish: or someone totally misunderstands what “ethical” means.
    – gnasher729
    Jul 11, 2022 at 21:31
  • 6
    I don't understand how the number of hours worked is a factor in whether or not this is ethical.
    – joeqwerty
    Jul 11, 2022 at 22:49

2 Answers 2


So as I understand it you bought something that would help you with your job without first asking your company if that was OK.

You won't be paid for this automatically. You have to ask to be paid, usually by submitting an expense claim for it. Submitting the claim is asking for it. If they agree to pay it that means they are OK. If not then they aren't. In the latter case you would be out of pocket by whatever you paid.

However simply submitting an expense claim does look a bit like you are trying to sneak recompense past the company. A better approach would be to ask your boss if it's OK to make the claim. If he says yes then you will be fine. If he doesn't, then you've spent some amount of your own money and need to accept that.

If they agree to pay then it's perfectly ethical to accept.

And unrelatedly if you aren't doing the hours required then start doing so.


As an employee, your employer has to supply you with the tools you need. (I was told that hairdressers can be counter examples, buying for example very expensive scissors and if any other employee including the boss touches them there is hell to pay).

Normally you ask your manager for what is needed, and it gets supplied. If not and you can’t work without the equipment you either tell them you can’t work and that’s it. Or you tell them you can’t work without the equipment and you’re going to buy it. In that case the company needs to reimburse you. If you don’t get reimbursed then the tools you bought disappear and you can’t work. The company still needs to pay you for your time when you can’t work through their fault.

  • What if no ones knows that if we had bought XYZ machine, we would have been more productive? Then who's fault is it that we werren't productive at the time we didn't know XYZ was a useful tool?
    – user135827
    Jul 11, 2022 at 21:33
  • different jobs have different requirements. for example, auto mechanics typically own their tools.
    – Tiger Guy
    Jul 11, 2022 at 21:38
  • @Germania, Then you text your boss and ask them But ultimately, if you can't reach anyone, you have to use your own common sense. Are you a minimum wage worker? Or a highly paid one? Is your employer a cheapskate? Or do they normally supply good equipment? Have you known your supervisor for a while? Ultimately, buying equipment without prior approval is a risky move. Don't do it unless you're absolutely certain you will be reimbursed. If your employer is so shitty that you can't easily reach your supervisor and your employer hasn't given you a mechanism for getting reimbursed, that's on them. Jul 11, 2022 at 22:31
  • But at the same time, if a $20 piece of equipment could have saved your employer hundreds of dollars in labor cost, don't be surprised if your employer is disappointed you didn't buy it. Jul 11, 2022 at 22:34

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