When writing a travel expenses policy, what should you cover and what disciplinary procedures should you implement for those that flaunt the policy?
Well, as with any policy you need to be clear. Work out what you do and don’t want to cover and how the policy will be applied. Make the terms as unambiguous as possible and then run it past some colleagues to see if they can spot any flaws or loopholes.
You need to accept from the outset that the majority of your employees will keep to letter and spirit of the policy but you will have some who will try to see how far they can bend the rules and you may also have some who will break them.
Try to limit issues of misinterpretation by setting out what the travel expenses policy is meant to cover. This gives a guideline for determining whether or not a claim should be considered in the event of any dispute.
Set out the circumstances in which a claim can be made. Be clear that it only relates to travel carried out on behalf of work over and above that which an employee would need to carry out in travelling between home and work.
Decide whether advance approval has to be given for some types of expenses. Can employees arrange these themselves or do they have to be arranged by someone based in the office? Specify that receipts will be needed to back up all expenses where direct payment was made and that reimbursement will not be made without them. Warn employees that checks may be done to confirm the distance travelled in relation to mileage claims.
Set out any time limits in respect of making and paying claims. The policy can specify that expenses will on be paid if they are claimed within a set period of time of being incurred, such as one month, and that any claims made out of time will be paid solely at the company’s discretion and will depend on the reasons as to why the claim was late.
Do you intend to reimburse expenses claims as and when they are claimed or will this be a payment made alongside monthly salary? If they will be repaid monthly then the policy should set out a deadline for expenses claims to be received in order to be processed for payment that month.
It may be advisable for the expenses claim form to include a requirement to provide a signed declaration that sets out that the employee making the claim confirms the truth of the claim and understands that knowingly submitting a false claim could be considered fraud.
Your disciplinary procedure should already set out the consequences for failure to follow company procedures. The action you will take will depend on how and why this policy was broken. What you need to consider is the degree of the breach and whether it was accidental or intentional.
How you approach a breach will need to be guided by the severity of the action but it can range from an informal discussion right through to possible summary dismissal for potential gross misconduct.
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