Johnny C. Taylor Jr.
| Special to USA TODAYJohnny C. Taylor Jr., a human resources expert, is tackling your questions as part of a series for USA TODAY. Taylor is president and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management, the world’s largest HR professional society.The questions are submitted by readers, and Taylor’s answers below have been edited for length and clarity.Have a question? Do you have an HR or work-related question you’d like me to answer? Submit it here.Question: I have been working remotely for my company for 17 months. They recently announced plans for extended and potentially permanent remote operations. I maintain a home remote office with some supplies I would normally get from work. It takes up space in my home that could otherwise be used for something else. Can I request a salary adjustment to account for my personal investments in my remote work? – EvanJohnny C. Taylor Jr.: Certainly, you could ask for a salary adjustment. However, a better option to recoup remote work expenditures may be expense reimbursement. Expense reimbursement systems are a more common practice for businesses. Depending on where you work, several states may require employers to reimburse employees for necessary business-related expenses. Even in states where it is not mandated by law, many employers have policies for reimbursement of certain business expenses. You’ll want to review your employer’s policy to identify what is applicable to your situation. You can also reach out to your HR department for further clarification.Now, if there isn’t a policy in place, I recommend determining your expenditures for your office to present the total cost to your employer. Things that you might think are personal items may be classified as business expenses when working from home. Reimbursement expenses may include office supplies, utilities, or other items an employer may require while working from home.If your employer does not offer reimbursement for business-related expenses, you may consider discussing your case with an accountant about possible tax deductions. As a last resort, I would then ask for a salary adjustment to cover the cost associated with an investment in your home office.Now, employers aren’t required to oblige such a request, as such expenses may offset what you would save in eliminating your daily commute. You will want to understand what your costs savings are as well.In the end, you will want to weigh your expenditures against your savings to see where you fall. Understand the situation fully before you ask. I hope this helps. Good luck!COVID-19: Can I ask my employer to mandate vaccinations? Ask HRAnimals at work: Should I welcome my employees’ pets into the office? Ask HRHow to ask for a pay raise at workPay disparities exist for a variety of reasons. However, one of the main reasons is that people often don’t feel empowered to negotiate their pay.USA TODAYQ: I am currently searching for a job and already have insurance coverage through my spouse. Can I ask for higher pay based on the fact that I will deny coverage through a prospective employer? – JorgeTaylor Certainly, when negotiating a salary, you are free to ask about a litany of considerations. The hiring process is exactly the setting when you should address compensation but be prepared to explain in detail why you are asking for a higher starting pay. Asking for higher pay when not enrolling in benefits is referred to as cash in lieu of benefits.First, you should understand a few things as you approach the salary negotiation. When entering any negotiation remember you do not control the outcome only your perspective and how you express it. With that in mind, take care in crafting your position and be prepared with responses to both positive and negative outcomes.I recommend you start with researching the industry and evaluating how your skill set and experience match up to the requirements for the position. Having a grasp of the common salary for the position and regional cost of living factors will better inform your salary expectations. Employers often have established salary ranges, so you’ll want to ensure what you are asking makes sense.Sell yourself! Highlight the value you bring to an employer. Relate your competencies that align with the company’s mission. Specific examples of those competencies will further strengthen your case and the credibility of your argument.From your perspective, you may assume not taking insurance saves the company money. However, it isn’t always the case as there are variables not readily apparent. Benefits often come from a separate budget than salaries so it may not make sense from the employer’s viewpoint. In addition, if your prospective employer has at least 50 full-time equivalent employees, it is subject to the Affordable Care Act and providing cash in lieu of benefits adds complexity to its compliance with the ACA.Be prepared to clearly state your case but understand some elements that may hinder your chances to acquire cash in lieu of benefits. Practice verbalizing all of your points to project confidence but be wary not to cross the line into cockiness. Seek to understand the dynamics a prospective employer may be facing as you ask about salary. Don’t be afraid to explore your options. Just make sure you employ tact and professionalism when doing so. Remember, if you don’t ask, you’ll never know. Best of luck!
Johnny C. Taylor Jr.