Our healthcare system naturally evolves with the technological, demographical, environmental and economic changes of our society. Whether it’s the discovery of disease-causing bacteria, the invention of vaccinations, the development of therapies, improving sanitation protocols, introducing public health insurance programs such as Medicare or implementing life-saving technologies, healthcare is always advancing. Right now in America, we’re experiencing a patient-led shift in healthcare: at-home care.
Thanks to a combination of an aging population and the existence of technologies that make remaining at home more feasible and affordable, home healthcare (HHC) is becoming popular. Like elsewhere in the medical care industry, home care organizations are struggling to meet the demand for caregivers and nurses who are willing to travel throughout the day for work as well as work in the high-stress environments healthcare presents.
To do this job requires dedication and compassion. The number of qualified candidates is already small, and every organization is fighting over the cream of the crop. Creating a home care mileage reimbursement policy will give you a leg-up in an industry where many organizations still compensate their home care aides well under the IRS standard mileage rate.
Ensure Proper Reimbursement
Travel – most often in their personal vehicles – is such an important aspect of home care workers’ jobs that ignoring the need for mileage reimbursement or failing to have a process in place to handle reimbursement requests seems ludicrous. However, many companies overlook this important aspect of the job, leading to some unfortunate outcomes.
You may think it’s not that big of a deal if employees wind up being under-reimbursed for their mileage, but your actions – or inactions – could be violating labor laws and lead to lawsuits, especially if workers are paid at or near minimum wage. Depending on where you live, you may even be legally required to reimburse employees at the standard mileage rate. By taking the steps necessary to develop a home care mileage reimbursement policy, you can ensure that all employees will be appropriately compensated regardless of their wage or location. This policy will also formally state the reimbursement rate for your organization as well as what travel will be considered business-related and eligible for reimbursement.
Care for Workers’ Needs
In the same way that you want your home care aides to go above and beyond for their patients, any HHC organization should demonstrate its commitment to their employees’ needs. A principle issue that many workers in this industry face is either being reimbursed far below the standard mileage rate or dealing with an unreliable expense reporting process. This is a big deal since workers agree to use their own vehicles – racking up miles and wear-and-tear – in order to visit their patients. After all, the standard mileage rate is determined by taking these kinds of vehicle expenses into account. If employees are losing money due to a laissez faire approach to mileage reimbursement, their jobs become more burdensome.
A home care mileage reimbursement policy puts your dedication to employees into writing, not only ensuring that workers will receive reimbursement but detailing the where, when and how, as well.
This is a doubly-important commitment to make since workers can’t simply claim a business mileage deduction on their own taxes as they could in the past. After the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, unless someone is self-employed, they can’t claim mileage as a business expense deduction. Now, it’s even more important for organizations to recognize the importance of a mileage reimbursement program, and create the policies and procedures that guarantee its operation.
Explanation of the Process
Developing a companywide policy addressing mileage reimbursement also serves the purpose of standardizing the process for all employees. If you leave it up to your workers to decide how they will record and report their trips to their managers for reimbursement, you’ll likely find yourself handling several different methods. Some employees may strategically track their odometer readings throughout the day while others may just report their trip mileage in bulk for a day or work week. Without standard procedures, accidental mistakes and deliberate fraud can easily slip past you, costing you more down the road.
Your policy delivers the same guidelines for everyone, explaining how they should properly record mileage and go about reporting it. It’s also an opportunity for you to lay down the approval process, the steps expense reports need to go through to reach accounting for payment. Documenting this now will save you many headaches later.
Deliver Peace of Mind
At the end of the day, you want to do for your home healthcare workers what they do for their patients: give them peace of mind that they will be taken care of, even in the little ways. That should be the motivation behind creating your home care mileage reimbursement policy. Ensure that you both recognize and communicate the importance of properly compensating employees, that you have an established mileage reimbursement process in place and that everyone understands their responsibilities throughout the process. Both current and prospective employees will be put at ease and have a higher degree of satisfaction with your company.
Mileage Reimbursement Made Easy
Technology is your biggest ally to a successful home care mileage reimbursement policy. Tracking business mileage, especially for larger organizations, can quickly become unmanageable. With a simple mileage tracking app, employees can track their mileage and submit reimbursement requests from their phones, making handwritten mileage logs and paper expense reports a thing of the past. With software introducing automation into the process, you can expect more accuracy and greater productivity.
SureMileage from CompanyMileage is already used by hundreds of home healthcare organizations around the country to make the process of mileage expense reimbursement as easy and straightforward as possible. Our system relies on point-to-point calculations ratherthan simple GPS tracking to ensure that the trip mileage reported is as accurate as possible. Mileage padding and guesstimating are a thing of the past. Employees only need to dedicate a few minutes a day to reporting trips for reimbursement, and our system will automatically move reimbursement requests through the proper approval process.
The best part? SureMileage seamlessly integrates with all major payroll and accounting systems, so you won’t have to make any major changes to adopt our mileage reimbursement solution.
If you haven’t developed a home care mileage reimbursement policy yet, it’s high time you sat down with your management team and worked out the details. As you’re finalizing your process, be sure to consider how technology can introduce more reliability and regularity to your employees. To learn more about SureMileage and how our system helps companies just like yours, request a demo with CompanyMileage today.