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Mileage Reimbursement Issue, to start. Hello Vixens!! Would love some insight about this. Figured AV would be a great place to post this question.

I will try to be concise here lol, but there is backstory to preface it! I just started a new job working in the beginning of October at a larg(er) non-profit company. My job title is a "Life Coach". I am a mentor and aid for at risk young adults ages 17-21. Many of the clients are on probation. My job is to help them with life skills through activities, such as applying for jobs, anything to help them get a good start back and being stable on their own etc etc. Also just to be a positive and consistent contact in their life.

I found the job through a book club I was in where everyone in the book club but me were therapists in New Haven (CT), where I now work out of. They told me about this position, and the job can go by other names but it's a common position in the therapy field. News to me, I was thrilled something like this existed, as I have been heavily debating whether or not to go back and get my masters in counseling or therapy. Thought it would be a great foot in the door, and way to gain some experience. You need a bachelors to do the life coaching, but since you are not a licensed therapist (masters necessary), I am a supplement/ aid to them.

The job is not technically full time. I can get up to 35 hours a week with it which they initially told me, but I am finding now that to be very hard. I met two of the other Life Coaches during our weekly meetings, and they told me have been doing the job for awhile but in no way have ever gotten remotely close to 35 hours a week. They will have on average 1 to 2 clients at a time.

I am technically an independent contractor for the company. My job is to see each client 2X week, for up to 2 hours each…As of now, I only have two clients. Since I am part time, and not an employee directly for the company, I drive from my house to pick up the clients at their house, and drive them around to wherever they need to be. I never go into the office when I’m out with the clients ‘in the field’. I just drive straight from my house to theirs.

I am driving from Sandy Hook, CT to New Haven, CT which is 21 miles one way. It takes me about 45mins to an hour to get to each client’s house with traffic. Driving my house to my main clients house is 23 miles one way.

Part of their policy is to give mileage reimbursement for $0.48 cents/ mile. Great. When I was turning in my form, and hourly log for my first paycheck, I recorded my mileage from my house to the clients house, wherever we went, and then ending the mileage total when I dropped the client back off at their home.

My supervisor right away told me that they don’t clock mileage from the Life Coaches house to the clients house. The start clocking mileage from their office to the clients house, which is located right in downtown New Haven… My clients live 1.6 to 2.1 miles away from the office. I was surprised by this, then my supervisor quickly informed me that they clock mileage the exact same way, and the same rate as the therapists.

I recorded my mileage starting from my house because in my mind, that is when I begin working. The nature of my job is driving on the road, picking up/ dropping off clients. The therapists, are there full time *on salary* and have desks at the office. They are also given a company car to use for client meetings. I thought it was a totally irrelevant comparison, of which my bf/ sister/ friend agrees with.

I also was doing some researching on the internet, and from what my dad told me as well who worked in a corporate environment, said that the indicator to clock mileage is from your office space. Or, having an office or not is what determines your mileage. In my case, my ‘office’ would be my house as an independent contractor. Being that I am not there full time in an office (like the therapists).

My sister and bf think it would be worthwhile to try to push for more mileage reimbursement on my end. I just wanted to see if anyone had a definitive answer on tracking mileage, or how you think I could best approach this with them.

ALSO they pay you once a month. The job expectation is that you do curated and planned out formal activities with the clients each meeting, which naturally almost always costs money. They push for you to take them out to eat, which is all well and fine. BUT they expect you to pay for everything up front out of your pocket. They *do* reimburse you, but it’s a month later, and they cycle continues. My first month alone I spent in total with gas almost $400 on the job itself, on one client, including gas. I JUST got my check in the mail today, and was reimburse $6.12 for mileage. They told me they are not willing to give a prepaid credit card, or money up front for the activities unless they are over $50.00. But the therapists use that money too, so they get priority.

The greater surrounding issue is I am feeling that with how things are going, the job is just not sustainable. I’ve literally lost money working for them. As much as I LOVE LOVE what I am doing, I need to live too!

I have my meeting Wednesday and want to discuss the mileage again. What advice/ perspective do you have? / What is a professional way to phrase this issue? Last time I feel I got nervous and wasn't articulating myself that well. I want to come in more prepared this time. If this is something they will even compromise on with me.

THANK YOU for reading this, and thank you for any responses!

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    If your job specified that you work from your home office, I agree with you. Otherwise I think it makes sense to go by the distance between the office and the client (if you went by total distance between home and client you would basically be asking to be reimbursed for your normal commute).

    I think just bringing up the points you made is a great place to start...you love what you are doing but you are losing money. No reasonable organization would expect that from you. Hopefully they will be able to work out something!

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    Leslie wrote: If your job specified that you work from your home office, I agree with you. Otherwise I think it makes sense to go by the distance between the office and the client (if you went by total distance between home and client you would basically be asking to be reimbursed for your normal commute). I think just bringing up the points you made is a great place to start...you love what you are doing but you are losing money. No reasonable organization would expect that from you. Hopefully they will be able to work out something!

    Thanks Leslie! I agree, it can be tricky as naturally companies do not pay you to drive to your job (commuting). I absolutely have no office or desk at the company, I just am on the road.

    :)

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    Hmmm ... is there any reason for you to go into the "head office" at any time? (Picking up client dossiers, singing papers, meetings with supervisors...)

    If not -- if you NEVER have to be there -- then I'd agree that your home is your office space.

    It still might be a tough sell, as from the organization's perspective. they want to have a simple blanket policy that covers everyone -- and paying mileage from a single point for everyone is just that. But it's still worth fighting for...

    Incidentally, what do your fellow workers do about this very issue? You can't be the only one in this situation...

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    Kal wrote: Hmmm ... is there any reason for you to go into the "head office" at any time? (Picking up client dossiers, singing papers, meetings with supervisors...) If not -- if you NEVER have to be there -- then I'd agree that your home is your office space. It still might be a tough sell, as from the organization's perspective. they want to have a simple blanket policy that covers everyone -- and paying mileage from a single point for everyone is just that. But it's still worth fighting for... Incidentally, what do your fellow workers do about this very issue? You can't be the only one in this situation...

    Thanks Kal!!! Thank you for your feedback as always :)

    I agree, in my gut I feel that is what they are doing, my guess is that it is to cover everyone and avoid paying people too much for gas. Which I find kind of crappy, but, of course, they are going to try to cut as many costs on their end.

    Al the other Life Coaches live also in New Haven and work in New Haven. So for them the gas issue is non-existent. Apparently they *used* to track mileage starting at the house, but now they don't anymore.

    And also, yes, we do go in the office for meetings once every Wednesday evening for an hour. I was in the office before several times too, but for my interviews. My bf is guessing they have a sneaky way of making that 'count' as office use for us.

    Before I posted, I was researching online and there seems to be sOoOoOo many different little rules, exclusions, conditions here and there for mileage. And of course it can vary by state, also by the company. I'm *thinking* they ultimately can make whatever rules they want about it, no matter how it actually effects us as independent contractors. / The vibe I initially got from my supervisor was that those are the rules and tough luck.

    I just feel in my gut this is one of those instances where I may be able to push for something, as I just think for the actual time/ work I'm doing/ how much I'm spending on it, and then what I'm getting back is just nuts so far.

    I guess I am going to try to bring it up again... Or maybe I won't, I don't know yet. I'm trying to go in armed with more info about it, and what is standard in this type of work...

    But frustrated for sure!


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