Coronavirus: Should employers be paying employees' internet bills amid COVID-19 lockdown?

While working from home has its perks, it can get costly. An increased phone bill, office heating, internet, video calls - a spike in the power bill is almost inevitable.

It can be confusing whether an employer is obligated to cover work-related costs incurred by employees working from home. Employment law expert Jennifer Mills says while the employment agreement should be the first port of call, there is an "implied duty" for employers to pay for these expenses.

Should my employer be paying for my additional costs?

"There is a simple answer. The employment agreement is the first port of call. There may be some provision in the agreement setting out what happens [when] an employee incurs costs associated with working from home. That's the starting point and the paramount, governing clause, if there is one," Mills told The AM Show on Wednesday.

"Failing that, the fall-back position is yes, there is an implied duty on employers to pay for the expenses incurred by employees when they are working from home as part of their employment."

Does the employer pay the full cost? Is it split? How does it work?

"How do we quantify the costs that have been incurred - for the internet, that's more tricky. Often employees have fixed internet packages - that might be a matter of negotiation," Mills suggested.

"Where you can readily identify the costs, they ought to be paid by the employer. Situations like making toll calls, overseas costs, and they are clearly quantifiable, then yes, an employee should be able to go to their employer [and ask for reimbursement]."

If I'm already paying the bill, what happens?

"It's more tricky when it's a cost that the employee is otherwise paying. If it's a standard package, that's more difficult. But where there are additional costs that you can show, then an employee should probably be reimbursed.

"Power, that's tricky. The obligation is on the employee to prove the amount that's owed to them. I'd recommend employees talk to their employer and ask what kind of reimbursement could be made."

Landlords are open to negotiation

Mills say employers should be negotiating a reduction for the lease and operating cost with the landlord.

"In circumstances such as this, employers ought to be able to get a discount from their landlord so there is some money which perhaps can go towards those costs incurred by an employee."