Remote Employee Reimbursement Policy (Interim)

Effective Date: 
September 4, 2020
Revision Date: 
September 4, 2020

Many Yale employees continue working remotely due to COVID-19.  Yale is deeply appreciative of the adaptability and resiliency of its employees.  As remote work continues, the University wishes to clarify the types of items that are generally acceptable for purchase to support effective telework.  This interim policy establishes the rules and guidelines pertaining to such purchases.  As always, employees are expected to spend Yale funds prudently and for valid business purposes.

1. Generally Allowable Purchases

The following items, if needed to support effective telework, are generally approved for purchase:

  • basic office supplies, including but not limited to, the following examples:
    • pens;
    • pencils;
    • highlighters;
    • sticky notes (e.g., Post-It);
    • paper;
    • notebooks;
    • printer ink;
  • small computer accessories, including but not limited to, the following examples:
    • mouse;
    • keyboard;
    • batteries for wireless mouse or keyboard;
    • laptop charger.

Employees may purchase approved items via a purchase requisition through Workday/SciQuest (see Procedure 3201 PR.01 Purchase Requisition Process for detailed process).  Departments are encouraged to designate a point-person (or point-persons) to aggregate employee requests for approved items into bulk purchases for the department.  Purchases through Workday/SciQuest can only be shipped to the Yale office location.

If purchasing items through Workday/SciQuest is impracticable, employees may utilize one of the following alternative methods:

  • Yale PCard and accompanying expense report (see Procedure 3215 PR.01 Yale Purchasing Card Procedure for detailed process); or
  • Out-of-pocket purchase submitted for reimbursement (see Procedure 3215 PR.02 Yale Expense Management (PCard and Out-of-Pocket Expenses) for detailed process).

Purchased items that require shipment (e.g., from an online order) may be shipped directly to the employee’s home (or other applicable remote work location).

Purchases of generally approved items do not require additional authorization (Note: employees making purchases on sponsored awards must continue adhering to applicable allowability guidelines).  Employees are cautioned, however, that purchases are expected to be reasonable.  Overly frequent purchases or purchases in excessive quantities or dollar values may be disallowed and deemed personal expenses, at the discretion of the employee’s Lead Administrator.  Lead Administrators are encouraged to notify employees that existing supplies in department storerooms should be used before additional purchases are made, if those supplies can be efficiently distributed.

For questions and assistance interpreting these guidelines and appropriate limits, Lead Administrators should contact the Controller’s Office.

2. Purchases Requiring Prior Approval

Items such as headphones, microphones, webcams, tablets, computers, laptops, monitors, and printers may be necessary for employees to perform work remotely.  The University generally will not, however, pay for an employee to have identical/similar items in multiple locations.  As such, employees should consider the feasibility of bringing existing equipment home for temporary use.  Items retrieved from Yale should be used for business purposes only and maintained and returned in the same condition in which they were obtained.  Lead Administrators should notify employees of the appropriate process for retrieving items and for recording their home location on the department’s Information Technology (“IT”) inventory. 

If it is unfeasible to retrieve equipment or an employee requires additional equipment to support effective telework, purchases of the above items require prior approval from the employee’s Lead Administrator.  If prior approval is granted, employees must purchase tablets, computers, and laptops and may purchase other approved items via a purchase requisition through Workday/SciQuest (see Procedure 3201 PR.01 Purchase Requisition Process for detailed process), which will only ship items to a Yale office location.  If an approved purchase cannot be made through Workday/SciQuest and an employee wishes to make the purchase elsewhere, such purchase requires additional prior approval from the employee’s Lead Administrator, who must also obtain an exception from the Controller’s Office.

All equipment items purchased with University funds are the property of the University and must ultimately be returned to YaleIf these items need maintenance/repair while being used at home, employees should notify their Distributed Support Provider (“DSP”) or the IT Department (ITS Help Desk at 203-432-9000).

3. Purchases Not Permitted

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

  • office furniture and décor (e.g., desks, chairs, stand-up desks (e.g., Varidesks), etc.)*;
  • 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: for the above, starred items, employees should consider the feasibility of bringing existing equipment home for temporary use.  Items retrieved from Yale should be used for business purposes only and maintained and returned in the same condition in which they were obtained.  Lead Administrators should notify employees of the appropriate process for retrieving items and for tracking their home location.

Purchases of the above 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.

4. 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 individuals working remotely due to COVID-19.  “Home internet charges” include, but are not limited to, routers, modems, hotspots, access fees/charges, and other related equipment and/or service expenses.

5. 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 individuals working remotely due to COVID-19.  For employees working from home, the University will not reimburse mileage between the employee’s home and their Yale University work location.

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