The importance and impact of healthcare workers has been given a spotlight over the last year and a half like never before. During the COVID-19 pandemic, frontline healthcare providers have been regarded as essential workers, risking their lives to help keep people safe and healthy.
Home healthcare involves nurses, social workers, and other providers who go to patients’ homes to assist them with any medical needs they require without having to make a trip to a doctor’s office or hospital. These services can range from providing various forms of therapy, giving injections, and assisting with quality of life.
However, as these providers tend to use their personal vehicles to travel, it’s paramount that they track their mileage and expenses. Here’s why.
Why Home Healthcare Providers Need To Track Their Mileage (& Expenses)
Even compared to other industries with large mobile workforces, home healthcare providers profoundly rely on their vehicles to help do their work. Despite their importance to both the individuals and communities they serve, home healthcare workers in the United States earn an average wage of just $13.49, well below the minimum livable wage of $16.54 (as of 2019).
Making sure home healthcare providers are provided with every cent that they deserve is, thus, very important. These workers, whom we have collectively deemed essential, are struggling enough as it is as we emerge from the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Home Healthcare Companies Stay Compliant
Believe it or not, in the United States, there is no federal law requiring companies to reimburse employees for their mileage. Some states, like California, Illinois, and Massachusetts, have their own requirements, but most companies in the US will have their own internal mileage reimbursement procedures.
With that said, if an employee tracks their mileage and expenses and finds that the expenses they accrued while conducting business have caused their net pay to dip below minimum wage, federal law does require reimbursement. The IRS provides a mileage rate, updated yearly, that is based on “an annual study of the fixed and variable costs of operating an automobile”.
The rate for 2021 is $0.56 for mileage accrued conducting business in a personal vehicle, but this is not a hard requirement. If an employer can prove that the expenses their employees incur are worth less than this rate, they can pay them any rate they feel is fair.
Still, companies often choose to offer reimbursements to stay on the safe side. If caught under-reimbursing, employees may be able to sue their respective companies.
Why Companies Should Reimburse Home Healthcare Workers
Even though it’s not a federal requirement, there are many reasons why companies tend to choose to offer reimbursement. For instance, companies offering reimbursement tend to have more credibility, thus attracting higher-quality candidates.
Another reason is the increased oversight provided by mileage and expense tracking. For instance, TripLog offers an admin dashboard, allowing company owners and payroll specialists the ability to find inefficiencies, track fraudulent reimbursement requests, and enforce spending policies.
Accurate Reimbursements Are A Must
With wages as low as they are for home healthcare workers, being reimbursed for mileage and expenses accrued while conducting business can mean the difference between getting food on their family’s table or going hungry.
How Healthcare Providers Can Accurately Track Their Mileage
Up until recently, traveling workers have needed to manually track their mileage with pen-and-paper logbooks, a system that can be easily subject to fraud, whether unintentional or otherwise. Even with the advent of Excel sheets, drivers need to manually input their trips, which can be very time-consuming.
Worse still, when it comes time to provide reimbursements, a single payroll specialist might receive many individual documents from several drivers. They will need to manually take all of that data, create concise reports, and somehow ensure the logs are accurate.
Switch From Pen-and-Paper To a Modern Solution
Today, solutions exist that can streamline that entire process from start to finish, simplifying the process and removing any chance of mistakes or fraud. TripLog is the industry’s most powerful and feature-rich mileage tracker app for drivers, helping mobile employees never miss a mile.
For admins, company owners, and payroll specialists, TripLog’s web dashboard provides unparalleled amounts of data and analytics, designed to help companies fight fraud, enforce policies, and provide accurate reimbursements.
TripLog also allows companies to manage their team’s time and schedules. Your team can clock in and out, and administrators can easily track by project, client, or task, and easily see who’s working where.