What are Travel and Expense Policy Best Practices?

Travel and Expense Policy Best Practices

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Travel and Expense Policy Best Practices

A Travel and Expense (T&E) Policy provides guidelines for employees regarding business-related travel and expenses. A well-crafted T&E policy helps control costs, ensures compliance with tax and legal requirements, and provides clarity to employees. Here are some best practices for creating and maintaining an effective T&E policy:

  • Clear and Concise Language: Avoid using complex jargon. Make sure the policy is easily understandable for all employees to encourage compliance.
  • Define the Scope: Specify what kinds of expenses are reimbursable and under what circumstances. For example, differentiate between domestic and international travel or between client meetings and internal events.
  • Provide Spending Limits: Set daily or per-item spending limits for meals, lodging, transportation, and other common expenses. This avoids ambiguity and helps control costs.
  • Prior Approval: Require employees to get prior approval for certain types of expenses, especially if they exceed a set threshold. This can be especially pertinent for high-cost items like international travel or conference attendance.
  • Use of Preferred Vendors: If the company has partnerships or deals with specific vendors, mention them in the policy. This can help the company get better rates and control costs.
  • Documentation Requirements: Clearly state the need for receipts or invoices for all expenditures. Define the timeframe within which employees should submit these documents.
  • Expense Report Deadlines: Set clear deadlines for when employees need to submit their expense reports post-travel or expenditure. This ensures timely reimbursement and aids in financial forecasting.
  • Mode of Transportation: Define what modes of transportation are acceptable. For instance, when is it appropriate to fly vs. drive? If flying, should employees book economy or business class?
  • Meal Policies: Specify per diem rates or spending limits for meals. Clearly mention whether alcoholic beverages are covered.
  • Entertainment Expenses: Provide guidelines on entertaining clients or partners, including how much can be spent, who can be entertained, and the need for a clear business purpose.
  • Use of Corporate Credit Cards: If the company provides corporate credit cards, detail the allowable uses and any restrictions. Emphasize the need for timely payment to avoid interest charges.
  • Non-Reimbursable Expenses: Clearly list out any expenses that the company will not reimburse. This might include personal items, fines for traffic violations, or in-room movies at hotels.
  • Consequences of Non-Compliance: Outline the consequences if an employee fails to adhere to the T&E policy, such as delayed reimbursement or disciplinary action.
  • Periodic Review: T&E policies should be reviewed periodically to ensure they remain relevant and in line with the company’s financial objectives and industry benchmarks.
  • Training and Communication: Regularly communicate the policy to employees, especially after any updates. Consider hosting training sessions for new employees or after major policy revisions.
  • Feedback Mechanism: Allow employees to provide feedback on the policy. They might offer valuable insights into areas that are unclear or challenging to comply with.
  • Leverage Technology: Consider using expense management software or apps that can automate the expense reporting process, provide real-time policy checks, and simplify the approval process.

By implementing these best practices, companies can maintain a T&E policy that not only helps control costs but also provides clarity and fairness to employees, ensuring smoother business operations.

Example of Travel and Expense Policy Best Practices

Let’s walk through a simplified example of a Travel and Expense Policy for a fictional company, “TechFusion Corp.”

TechFusion Corp. Travel and Expense Policy

Objective: To guide employees on allowable business-related travel and expenses while ensuring cost-effectiveness and compliance.

1. Scope: This policy applies to all employees of TechFusion Corp. traveling for business purposes and incurring work-related expenses.

2. Pre-approval:

  • All international travel and any domestic trip exceeding $1,000 requires prior approval from the department head.

3. Air Travel:

  • Employees should book economy class for flights under 5 hours.
  • Business class may be booked for longer flights, but approval is required for first-class tickets.
  • Use the company’s preferred travel agency for bookings to avail negotiated rates.

4. Lodging:

  • Preferred hotel chains: “GlobalStay” and “UrbanRest.”
  • Daily limit: $200/night for domestic travel; $300/night for international travel.

5. Meals:

  • Daily allowance: $50 for domestic; $75 for international.
  • Alcoholic beverages: Reimbursed up to $20 per day.

6. Transportation:

  • Use public transport or company-approved cab services where possible.
  • Car rentals: Compact or mid-sized cars preferred.

7. Entertainment and Client Meetings:

  • A clear business purpose must be documented.
  • Spending limit: $150/client for entertainment.

8. Receipts:

  • Mandatory for all expenses above $25.
  • Use the “TechFusion Expense” app to capture and upload receipts.

9. Expense Reporting:

  • Submit reports within 10 days after the trip via the “TechFusion Expense” app.
  • Reimbursements processed within 15 business days of report approval.

10. Non-reimbursable Expenses:

  • Personal grooming products.
  • Traffic fines or parking tickets.
  • In-room movie rentals.

11. Corporate Credit Card:

  • To be used exclusively for business expenses.
  • Monthly statements must be reconciled and submitted.

12. Compliance Failure:

  • Inaccurate or late submissions may result in delayed or denied reimbursement.
  • Repeated violations can lead to disciplinary actions.

Feedback: Send feedback or questions to hr@techfusion.com.

Review: This policy will be reviewed annually or as deemed necessary.

This example provides a clear yet concise overview of the key aspects of a T&E policy. Depending on the company’s size, industry, and specific needs, the actual policy may have more detailed sections or additional categories.

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