Interim Purchasing and Reimbursement Policy (For Employees in Remote and Hybrid Working Arrangements)

Effective Date: 
August 9, 2021
Revision Date: 
August 9, 2021

Policy Sections

1.   General Purchasing Policies

2.   Purchases Not Permitted

3.   Policy Reminder on Internet Access from Home

4.   Policy Reminder on Commuting and Mileage Reimbursements

Policy and Guidance

Yale is deeply appreciative of the adaptability and resiliency of its employees.  After a period of largely remote work due to COVID-19, Yale has begun the transition back to in-person work.  As this transition continues, this interim policy establishes the rules and expectations that govern the categories of purchases discussed below.

This policy applies to all employees working remotely or on a hybrid schedule (i.e., partially in-person and partially remote).  As always, employees are expected to spend Yale funds prudently and for valid business purposes.

This policy does not apply to employees working fully in-person.  Such employees are, however, subject to all other applicable Yale policies, including the University’s existing purchasing and reimbursement policies (see list of existing policies/procedures in Section 1, below).

This policy supersedes and replaces previously issued interim reimbursement policies.

Note: upon their transition back to in-person work at Yale, employees are expected to return any equipment purchased with Yale funds that they brought to their home or other remote work location for temporary use during the pandemic.

1. General Purchasing Policies

As a general rule, the University is reinstating the policies, procedures, and preferred practices that were in effect prior to the transition to largely remote work due to COVID-19.

During the transition period, employees are expected to utilize existing technology equipment and supplies, to the extent possible.  Purchases to support the ordinary course of business (e.g., general office supplies for the unit, replacement of broken technology equipment) are generally allowable.

Incremental purchases to support multiple work locations (e.g., home office and Yale office) are generally not allowable.  Departments may, however, exercise discretion in permitting reasonable incremental purchases of peripheral items (e.g., computer mice, keyboards, mouse/keyboard batteries, laptop chargers, headphones, microphones, webcams).  Purchases of all such items require prior approval from the employee’s Lead Administrator.     

Employees making purchases are expected to adhere to the University’s existing policies, procedures, and preferred practices.  This includes, but is not limited to:      

Employees, if they wish, may use personal funds to make incremental purchases (e.g., additional monitors, additional laptop docking station, scanners, desk chairs) to support multiple work locations.  Discounts via preferred vendors are available through Personal Purchases with an Authorized Reseller.

2. Purchases Not Permitted

The following items are not approved for purchase, and the University will not reimburse, or otherwise pay, for their purchase:

  • home/remote office furniture and décor (e.g., desks, chairs, stand-up desks (e.g., Varidesks), etc.)*;
  • home/remote office file cabinets, shredders, scanners*;
  • expenses related to gym memberships and/or equipment;
  • private worksite or employee home expenses (e.g., electricity, insurance, home maintenance, home renovations or modification for office purposes, and other similar personal expenses); and
  • purchase costs or maintenance/repair expenses associated with employee-owned items or related services.

* Note: Purchases of the above, starred, items are permitted only for medical necessity or disability.  Employees must obtain prior approval for purchase of the above items through Yale’s Accommodations Program and attach the approval to the applicable expense report.  If approved, all equipment and furniture items purchased with University funds are the property of the University and must ultimately be returned to Yale.

3. Policy Reminder on Internet Access from Home

University Policy 1109 Internet Access from Home states:

“The University will not reimburse or pay directly for home internet charges for faculty, postdoctoral associates/fellows, or staff, regardless of the source of funds.  The cost of accessing the internet from home will be considered a personal expense.”

This Yale policy is still in effect and applies to all individuals working during the transition period.  “Home internet charges” include, but are not limited to, routers, modems, hotspots, access fees/charges, and other related equipment and/or service expenses.

4. Policy Reminder on Commuting and Mileage Reimbursements

University Policy 3301 Travel on University Business states:

“Business mileage does not include the normal commute to and from work.  Under IRS Reg. § 1.262-1(b)(5), costs of commuting to the place of business or employment are personal expenses.  In general, this also applies to travel between multiple work locations…. Employees cannot be reimbursed for commuting expenses even if employees work during the commute.”

This Yale policy is still in effect and applies to all individuals working during the transition period.  For employees working from home, the University will not reimburse mileage between the employee’s home and their Yale work location.  This includes commuting on both planned and unplanned days at a Yale work location (e.g., if an employee has a scheduled remote work day, but ultimately commutes to their Yale work location on that day, the employee does not qualify for mileage reimbursement).

Further information and detailed scenarios are available in the University’s Mileage Reimbursement Matrix.