How to manage expenses claims and handle falsification
The most efficient way to manage expenses claims is to have a comprehensive expenses policy put in to place within the business.
The policy should make clear what expenses are to be reimbursed, in what circumstances and the expenses procedure that is in place. Any responsibility placed on employees for them to claim back expenses should be laid down, for example, if employees have to receive and retain receipts which detail the costs incurred. If a policy is in place it should contain all the detail which will allow effective management rather than being vague e.g. if approval is needed before reimbursement the policy should detail who, within the chain of command, can give approval so employees are aware of the need to speak to this person or direct the expense claim to them.
Policies which lay down limits of reimbursement may need to contain a degree of flexibility or have caveats. This will apply, for example, where hotel costs are subject to a limit of £100. The limit is likely to be more than sufficient for overnight accommodation outside of London but may need to be subject to an increase for certain cities.
Falsification of expenses is potentially an action of theft or fraud. It may need to be established if this is an intentional falsification or because the employee did not understand the expenses claim process. If it’s the latter then further training and instruction on the process may need to be provided. Though theft and fraud are quite serious actions by the employee it is likely that a dismissal will not be reasonable and a lower level of disciplinary action may need to be considered, though any previous disciplinary action may change this position.
Any falsification, whether by pence or pounds, should always be addressed. An informal discussion with the employee may be enough to make them realise that the employer knows what they are doing but, if not, a formal disciplinary procedure following the contractual process can be carried out. Taking action can also help in the future as it can discourage future fraudulent claims.
Consistency is key when faced with falsified expenses claims. If the facts of cases are similar and no action, or a particular action, has been carried out this may set a precedent for how cases will be treated in the future.
If you need any clarification on this issue then contact the Peninsula Advice Service on 0844 892 2772.