COVID-19 frequently asked questions on home working expenses.

Frequently asked questions

1. I am currently working from home. Is there a home working allowance available to cover additional heating and lighting costs at home?

There is no home working allowance in the NICS, but some additional expenses incurred may be claimed as per the FAQs below.

HMRC publishes guidance about how to claim tax relief on any home-working expenses you incur.  If you wish to investigate this option further, you should be able to find HMRC guidance online: the NICS cannot provide advice on personal tax matters.

2. I am currently working from home and I am required to make work calls. Will I be entitled to be reimbursed for these calls?

In the first instance you should consider using Cisco Jabber.  This will enable you to make most work calls at no cost to yourself or the Department.  You can use either your own headphones with microphone or be provided with headsets, if available.  Cisco Jabber will need to be enabled on your laptop or desktop if not already, and ITAssist will be able to provide guidance as necessary.

The Department may reimburse employees working at home for any actual cost incurred in the making of business calls on your personal mobile phone/home landline see Question 3 below for details on how to claim.

3. How do I claim for reimbursement of work calls made on my home landline or personal mobile phone, and what information must I provide my authorising officer with?

In order to claim reimbursement you will be required to provide the following details along with your claim to your authorising officer:

  1. proof of the mobile phone package you are currently on identifying any limits to daily/monthly minute (calls) entitlement
  2. a copy of an itemised phone bill identifying any business calls made that exceed your monthly limits. These itemised bills can be redacted if so wished. This will identify the additional expense

Once the additional expense has been identified you can then make a claim for reimbursement via Account NI’s Payment Request e-Form.

Please see detail of the process for claiming the reimbursement at Q8 below.

4. I am currently working from home due to Covid-19 and I am incurring additional data charges on my home broadband as a consequence, will I be entitled to be reimbursed for the additional data charges?

The Department may reimburse you for the additional cost of increased broadband data charges incurred solely from working from home. Any claims will need to be accompanied with supporting information ie receipts as detailed at Q6 below. 

5. I am currently working from home due to Covid-19 but do not have home broadband, can I get broadband installed for home working, and can I be reimbursed for the installation and monthly tariffs?

Prior to agreeing to the installation of home broadband, you and your line management should consider alternatives, such as providing a Data Sim for laptops or Mifi device for desktop computers.  ITAssist will be able to provide guidance if necessary on the procedure to be followed.

The Department may reimburse the additional cost of installing broadband at home and monthly tariffs and on the basis the charges incurred are solely related to working from home.

6. How do I claim for reimbursement of additional home broadband or installation of broadband at home and monthly tariffs required solely for work purposes, and what information must I provide my authorising officer with?

In order to do claim reimbursement you will be required to provide the following details along with your claim to your authorising officer:

  1. receipts indicating the cost of installation and details of the monthly data tariff
  2. proof of the broadband package you are currently on identifying your current limits; and details from the provider of the cost of expanding these limits due to work requirements

Once the additional expense has been identified you can then make a claim for reimbursement via Account NI’s Payment Request e-Form.  

Please see detail of the process for claiming the reimbursement at Q8 below.

7. Will there be any tax liabilities in respect of the reimbursements detailed above?

Whilst there is no liability for either the employer or employee to pay tax on the amount reimbursed, HMRC have recommended that staff claiming reimbursement of these expenses should retain evidence of expenditure, which may be subject to randomised checks.

8. What is the process for claiming the reimbursements detailed above?

Please follow the same Account NI process in your business area as you would for recouping costs for an eye test, flu vaccine or professional fees.

If you have not previously been set up on Account NI to receive payment (e.g. for travel and subsistence reimbursement) you will need to submit a DM100 Employee Maintenance Form available via the Employee Services Portal (link below), search DM100:

Note: You must ensure your details are up to date and accurate before submitting a claim for reimbursement, the DM100 form is also used for any amendments that may be required.

To check if you have already been set up for payment on Account NI you can refer to the Employee Listing Report on the Employee Services Portal, search Employee Listing Report.  

The appropriate account code when creating a Home Working Expenses reimbursement via the Account NI Payment Request eForm is either 31491 - Home Working Expenses (Admin) or 51491 - Home Working Expenses (Programme).

If you have any queries on how to claim your reimbursement you should refer to the Payment Request e-Form Guidance available on the AccountNI portal or contact your Retained Finance Function (RFF).

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