Expense Reimbursement Handbook
Regulations and Guidelines
Approved by President's Group June 15, 2011
Replaces handbook dated November 23, 2009
If you find any errors on this page or dead links please inform Ed Linder at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following Expense Reimbursement Regulations and Guidelines Handbook was established by Financial Services in collaboration with various departments. This guide is intended to assist University staff, and approving authorities, in preparation of expense claims and the provision of general guidelines for expense reimbursement related matters. All expense claim forms can be found at the Financial Services (http://www.wlu.ca/forms.php?grp_id=1583) website.
All University related expenses, including travel, entertainment and related expenses from all funds administered by the University including operating, ancillary, research, trust and restricted accounts must adhere to these regulations and guidelines. In the event that external granting agency regulations differ from the University regulations, the agency's regulations shall take precedence.
Links to Tri-Council (CIHR, NSERC, and SSHRC) and CFI requirements are available further in this handbook. Should a discrepancy arise between these guidelines and the granting agency’s requirements, the granting agency’s requirements shall take precedence.
Whenever possible, purchases should be handled with the Wilfrid Laurier University Purchasing Card. Purchasing Card applications and guidelines are available on the Procurement Services website. As a publicly funded institution, the University will endeavour to use its resources wisely and effectively. Staff should exercise care and judgment when incurring expenses and under no circumstances should personal expenses, personal travel expenses or personal entertainment expenses be charged to any funds administered by the University.
There may be instances where exceptions to these regulations and guidelines may be appropriate. Exceptions may only be approved by the President and Vice Presidents in the form of signed authorization submitted to Accounts Payable.
If you have any questions about filling out these forms please contact Accounts Payable.
The review and approval of expense claims is generally the responsibility of the Faculty Deans and department chairs/heads, so that these officers, or their delegates, have the authority to determine the overall reasonableness of the claims. Exceptions for research grants can only be made and approved by the associated research department. Other exceptions may be approved by the appropriate Dean or Vice-President.
All expense reimbursement claims must be pre-approved by an individual’s immediate supervisor . Preapproval can range from a discussion with your immediate supervisor regarding a specific event to developing a budget for personal expense reimbursement. The supervisor should specifically give approval for:
• travel outside of the province or the country
• circumstances in which alcohol expenses can be claimed
An employee cannot approve his/her own expense claim. Expenses for a group can only be claimed by the most senior person present – expenses cannot be claimed by an individual that are incurred by his/her approver (i.e. a Director who reports to an AVP cannot submit a claim that includes the cost of the AVP’s lunch even if they were at the same event, with the result that the AVP would thereby approve his/her own expenses). If the signing authority is not the immediate supervisor of the claimant, then the claimant must obtain his/her immediate supervisor’s approval.
• submit original, itemized receipts with all claims
• submit claims in a timely manner (within 30 days of the expenditure, or for travel expenses 30 days from the return date of the trip)
• if the information above is not available, submit a written explanation with the claim to provide the approver with adequate information for decision-making (Use lost receipt claim form)
• repay any overpayments – it is considered a debt owing to Wilfrid Laurier University
• provide approval only for expenses that were necessarily incurred in the performance of Wilfrid Laurier University’s business
• provide approval only for claims that include all appropriate documentation
Once approved, a printed copy of the expense reimbursement claim must be remitted to Accounts Payable with the original receipts.
On occasion, an expense claim may be delayed or rejected and returned to the claimant with an explanation. Some reasons (list not inclusive) a claim may be returned are:
• original receipts are not provided
• incomplete/incorrect accounting
• missing ID#
• improper signatory
• purpose of expenditure is not clearly stated
• cash advances are not entered
• for travel reconciliation, description does not include trip information and/or flight boarding pass
• conference registration and events schedule is not provided
• credit card reconciliation, includes statement without detailed original receipts
• the relationship between the expense and the research project is not clear
These claims must be corrected / approved and returned to Accounts Payable in a timely manner. Failure to comply with these regulations and guidelines may result in the following action(s):
- Telephone or email reminder will be sent to the claimant requesting the documents be sent within one week
- If documents are not received or claims are missing receipts, an in-person visit will occur to train and discuss the proper record keeping procedures and how best to ensure this occurs
- If proper documentation is not provided, the claim will not be paid and advances will be billed back to the employee as an outstanding debt owed to the University as per the Broader Public Sector Expense Directive
- If compliance does not improve, expense reimbursement privileges will be terminated
- Privileges will be reinstated if the employee agrees abide by the rules of Wilfrid Laurier University’s Expense Reimbursement Handbook
Employees will be reimbursed only after the original receipts have been reviewed by the appropriate signing authority. Before processing can commence, all supporting documents (original receipts, conference events schedules, boarding passes, etc.) must be submitted with a printed copy of the corresponding Expense Reimbursement Claim to Accounts Payable, either by inter-office mail or drop-off at 202 Regina Street, 2nd Floor.
Payments for all Expense Reimbursement Claims to University employees will be processed via electronic funds transfer (EFT) directly to the employee’s bank account. Please allow 2 business days following payment for direct deposit to your account (please note Accounts Payable requires ten working days upon receipt of expense forms to process payment). If the employee has not completed a Direct Deposit Authorization form (http://www.wlu.ca/forms/1427/Direct_Deposit_Authorization_Form.pdf) please submit one along with request for reimbursement.
The procedure for non-employee reimbursement is the same as employee reimbursement. However, payments for non-employees will be processed upon the receipt of supporting documents to Accounts Payable.
In no circumstances can hospitality, incidental or food expenses be considered allowable expenses for consultants and contractors or in any contract between an organization and a consultant or contractor. Therefore, they cannot claim or be reimbursed for such expenses, including: meals, snacks and beverages, gratuities, laundry or dry cleaning, valet services, dependent care, home management, personal telephone calls.
Payments will be made by Canadian or US cheque unless direct deposit information is available.
Please note: research agency regulations supersede the broader public sector directives.
Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) have specific requirements relating to travel reimbursements, approvals and documentation. For an up-to-date list of eligible and ineligible expenses, please consult the web site at: http://www.nserc-crsng.gc.ca/Professors-Professeurs/FinancialAdminGuide-GuideAdminFinancier/index_eng.asp
CFI operates on the principle that its funds must be used effectively, economically, and in Canada’s best interest, including its research enterprise. CFI funding is based on an approved budget that is specific to each project. CFI strongly encourages funded institutions to seek the best possible prices for all cash expenditures.
Any deviation from the approved budget must be requested in advance to CFI, through the Office of Research Services. For complete CFI guidelines, please contact the Office of Research Services.
For anyone requiring advance funding for travel, a Travel Advance Request (https://www.wlu.ca/forms_detail.php?grp_id=1165&frm_id=1142), should be submitted, with appropriate authorization, to Accounts Payable. If received within a reasonable timeframe, advance funds will be available ten days prior to departure date. The funds will be processed via electronic funds transfer (EFT) to the employee’s bank account.
Advances must be accounted for by submitting a Travel Expense Claim (https://www.wlu.ca/forms_detail.php?grp_id=1165&frm_id=2332) to Accounts Payable, along with original receipts within ten business days of return. If repayment for any unused portion of the award is due to the University, a personal cheque must accompany the travel expense claim. All documents must be duly authorized. If an advance is not reconciled as required, future advance requests will be denied.
Travel, Hospitality and Entertainment Regulations
Procurement Services has negotiated, on behalf of the University, a Vehicle Rentals Contract for local travel. Contracts are negotiated and renewed annually. Individuals are encouraged to rent any required vehicle through this venue in order to take advantage of the corporate rates. The claimant’s original rental agreement and related gas receipts are to be submitted, with proper signing authority, to Accounts Payable.
For other rental requirements, visit CAUBO’s website at http://caubo.ca/supplier_contracts/car_rentals
It is the responsibility of the driver, to ensure he/she understands the car rental agreement. Driving rental vehicles in violation of any of the terms and conditions of the rental agreement contract voids the insurance. For more information, please refer to the Procurement Services (http://www.wlu.ca/homepage.php?grp_id=167&pv=1) website.
The use of personal automobiles while on University business is an acceptable practice. Employees are reimbursed based on the current rate of $.44 (effective September 1, 2008) per kilometre (conversion from miles is x 1.6). If travelling with additional passengers, only one person can claim the reimbursement. Transportation between campuses, which is not part of the employment contract or arrangement, may be claimed for reimbursement. No reimbursement can be made for travel to and from an employee’s residence and their normal place of business. The point at which mileage can be claimed would be from/to the individual’s primary residence or their normal place of business depending on where the individual was when they began or returned from the trip.
Generally, when a claimant uses his/her personal vehicle to travel outside of Ontario, the expense claim is to be prepared on the basis of the lower of:
i) what it would have cost by equivalent economy airfare by the most direct route
ii) the automobile rate per kilometre, plus accommodation and meals
The Department Chair/Head, Dean, or delegated signing authority may approve exceptions.
Expenses for hotel, airport, and public parking are allowable, with original receipts.
The University’s insurance policy does not provide coverage for the use of personal vehicles. The compensation provided for the use of personal vehicles, for university business, is intended to cover all costs, including insurance. In advance of travel, car owners are strongly advised to check with his/her insurance agent to secure appropriate endorsements to personal policies.
The Wilfrid Laurier University Purchasing Card should be used for all car rentals. It provides the CDW that car rental agencies offer as an additional charge which covers the insurance deductible. However, there are certain restrictions:
• The total rental period cannot exceed 31 days;
• The Rental Car must be operated by the Primary Cardholder, the Primary Cardholder’s Spouse, his/her Dependent Child or a person employed by Wilfrid Laurier University who is travelling with the Primary Cardholder and who is otherwise authorized to operate the Rental Car under the Rental Car Agreement;
• Trucks (including pickups), large vans (more than 8 passengers) and expensive vehicles (Value greater than $65,000) are not covered.
If the staff member does not have a Purchasing Card, then the car rental agencies CDW, must be purchased. Additional information, including claim procedures, are included on the Procurement Services Website at: https://www.wlu.ca/docsnpubs_detail.php?grp_id=167&doc_id=44435
Whenever possible, employees are expected to take advantage of advanced purchase fares, seat sales, etc. The maximum level of reimbursement should not exceed the equivalent of economy airfare for the most direct route. Airport taxes should be included as part of the cost of the airfare. Employees who have arranged fares at less than economy, which may necessitate staying overnight, may claim the additional accommodation and meal costs, provided there are overall costs savings when compared to flying on preferred dates at economy rates. These savings should be clearly outlined on an attachment that is provided to the signing authority. Additional airfare for stopovers, and other costs not related to University business, are considered to be personal expenses of the claimant and will not be reimbursed. Flight cancellation insurance is an allowable expense. Further insurance other than that provided by the University is not reimbursable.
If individuals purchase airline fares on-line using personal credit cards, submission of the e-ticket confirmation that details the itinerary and costs, must be submitted with a Travel Advance Request (https://www.wlu.ca/forms_detail.php?grp_id=1165&frm_id=1142). This is required because the trip is being reimbursed prior to the actual travel. Upon completion of trip (within ten days), all original receipts and boarding pass (if boarding pass is available) must accompany the Travel Expense Claim. (https://www.wlu.ca/forms_detail.php?grp_id=1165&frm_id=2332).
The University will reimburse employees for actual out-of-pocket expenses for meals (and gratuities), provided such expenses are reasonable and appropriate for the location and purpose of the travel.
The university will continue the practice of per-diems for all employees since they are included in the University’s employee Collective Agreements. For travel in Canada or Internationally, actual out-of-pocket expenses (including gratuities) may be claimed, without receipts, to a maximum of $70 per-diem, in Canadian dollars for travel in Canada, and in U.S. dollars for travel outside Canada.
In the event of partial day travel, or, if the event/conference supplies some meals, the relevant meals should be deducted in order to determine the per-diem allowance advance required. The individual is expected to remit any unused portion of the per-diem. Please see Section 3.1 on Advance Repayment.
The per-diem breakdown is as follows:
Receipts that itemize actual meal and beverage amounts in excess of the per-diem may be approved by the appropriate signing authority.
The primary responsibility for alcoholic beverage use is with the individual. All university community members have an obligation to use alcoholic beverages responsibly and legally. Please review the specific requirements for Alcoholic Beverages at events contained in University Policy 4.4.
It is the policy of Wilfrid Laurier University to:
• promote self-responsibility in the use of alcoholic beverages;
• discourage high-risk alcohol related practices through appropriate policies and procedures in the areas of prevention (policy and education), intervention and discipline;
• respect the needs of those who are underage or non-drinkers;
• support the law in the administration of and access to alcoholic beverages on campus;
• minimize dependence on alcohol-related sales or sponsorship by all university groups;
• encourage the consumption of beverages which are normally consumed with food, i.e. soft drinks, fruit juices, beer and wine instead of hard liquor. However, the university recognizes that some events may warrant the service of hard liquor and will accommodate any specific requests of the applicant.
Alcohol is not allowable under most research grant guidelines. Therefore, researchers should consult grant-specific guidelines to see whether alcoholic beverages may be charged to the grant account.
Should individuals choose to use the Purchasing Card, applicable receipts must be attached to the bank statement and submitted, with the appropriate expense report and approvals, to Procurement Services.
Should you choose to claim the per-diem allowable, without submitting receipts, you should not use the Purchasing Card.
When traveling to conferences, employees normally stay in designated hotels at conference negotiated preferred rates, and reservations may be made directly by the employee with the selected hotel/conference organizers. When not staying at designated hotels, it is expected that employees would stay at hotels where lower room rates are available for equivalent accommodations. The Canadian Association of University Business Officers (http://caubo.ca/supplier_contracts/hotels/before_you_book) offers corporate rates or discounts for select locations. As well, many Campus Residences (http://caubo.ca/supplier_contracts/hotels/campus_residences) offer suite/rooms during the summer months.
Accommodation expenses are to be listed separately, along with original receipts (detailed hotel invoice) and submitted to Accounts Payable. Receipts must indicate that payment has been made and the outstanding balance is zero.
When an employee is provided accommodations by a relative or friend, at no cost to the employee, a reasonable token of appreciation (i.e. hosting a dinner, a gift, etc.) may be claimed in lieu of hotel accommodations, provided such costs are described in detail, and approved by the appropriate authority.
Expenses of a spouse, partner, or family member who accompanies a staff member are not eligible expenses.
Employees are expected to consider the less expensive form of transportation (i.e. airport/hotel shuttle service, bus, automobile rentals, etc.); however, all transportation fares are eligible expenses. Original receipts are required; in cases where taxi receipts are not available (i.e. remote areas, foreign countries) a documented log, consisting of dates, times, and rates, should accompany the appropriate expense form. This log should be approved by the appropriate signing authority.
Business telephone or cell phone calls, faxes and computer connections are eligible expenses. Personal long distance telephone calls may be reimbursed depending on the length of travel, family situation, etc. Where applicable, the original receipts and/or hotel invoices are to be submitted to the signing authority.
Conference registration fees are eligible expenses. The registration form and events schedule, are to be submitted to the signing authority, along with the original receipts.
Please note that even if this section states an expense is reimbursable, all expense reimbursement claims must obtain one-over-one approval by the appropriate immediate supervisor. The one-over-one approval is applied to the most senior person at the event or meeting. In cases where internal catering services are used, the most senior person must be named at the time of order and appropriate approvals obtained.
This policy applies to Meeting and Hospitality expenses from all sources of funding including research and trust accounts, although expenses pertaining to research, trust and restricted funds may be incurred only if they are permitted by the terms and conditions of the grant, award, or contract. All hospitality events and meetings funded by the University involving alcoholic beverages must comply with University Policy 4.4 (a summary of this policy is provided in section 5.1 of this handbook). Alcohol is not allowable under most research grant guidelines.
The University recognizes that hospitality expenses may be incurred while providing services for teaching, research, recruitment, and administrative purposes. In general, these expenses would be for the provision of food, beverages, social, and recreational activities for the purpose of entertaining University guests, prospective employees, students, benefactors, or stakeholders. Events solely for the entertainment of employees within Laurier and the Broader Public Sector in Ontario are not allowed. All hospitality expenses need specific pre-approval from the hosting departments Vice-President or delegate.
Events such as business meals are not considered hospitality expenses and are allowable expenses. Business meals are at the discretion of a manager and occur when meetings or work continue over a traditional meal time period or timing constraints require a meeting or work over a meal period. Attendance at such events is to be limited to those who can be expected to contribute to the objective of the meeting. Refreshments and light snacks provided at in-house meetings or education sessions are also considered business meals and not hospitality.
A business meal may involve participants solely internal or both internal and external to the University, as long as the meeting is called specifically for the purpose of discussing University business. University business includes teaching, research, administration, and ancillary operations. Meal expenditures are expected to be within the limits of the university’s per diem allowance as noted in section 5. Receipts over this amount are subject to supervisor’s approval and may be disallowed. Entertainment is not considered University business, and would fall under the above hospitality policy.
In accordance with the Broader Public Accountability Act, 2010 under no circumstances can the reimbursement of hospitality expenses be included in a contract or agreement between the University and consultants or contractors. This means that the University cannot reimburse a consultant or contractor for any meals, beverages, snacks, or incidentals. Expenses for travel and accommodation, other than meals, can still be reimbursed that are in accordance with this handbook and must be specified in the contract agreement. A consultant or contractor consists of any individual or organization who receives monetary value (including an honorarium) in exchange for a service or good.
A consultant or contractor can be provided a meal, beverage, or snack if it complies with the policy in section 10.2 Business Meals. In that instance, the hosting department should pay the expense and submit it for reimbursement using the Meeting Expense Form. This exception does not include travel meals.
In determining if an expense is acceptable, it may be helpful to consider the following questions:
1. If a hospitality event, what is the purpose of the event?
The general purpose of an acceptable hospitality event should be the development of relationships or partnerships that will advance the University’s mission. Therefore, the hospitality event must involve individuals external to the university as the prime justification for the expense. Hospitality events solely involving individuals internal to the university are not acceptable and cannot be reimbursed.
2. Which of the following event types does the expense fall into?
(Proceed to Question 3)
Business or Working Meal
· Conferences (academic, research, or administrative)
· Student orientation
· Student recognition and awards
· Student recruitment or open house
· Alumni relations
· Student or Alumni career connections and networking
· Donor identification, relations, recognition, or cultivation
· Meetings over breakfast, lunch, or dinner to discuss:
· University administration
· Ancillary operations
· Beverages and snacks offered during meetings, workshops and other educational sessions
· Travel meals (see section 5 of the Expense Reimbursement Handbook)
· Recruitment of faculty and staff
· Retirement party
· Seasonal celebration
· Holiday celebration
· End of term party
· Baby shower
· Wedding shower
· Birthday celebration
· Employee recognition
3. If a hospitality event, which of the following participant types are involved?
Generally, 50% of the participants being external would be considered reasonable for a hospitality event, but can vary by event.
Internal to the University
External to the University
· Visiting researchers, academics, or administrators inside of the Broader Public Sector in Ontario
· Consultants or contractors (including guest lecturers or speakers who are paid)
· Board members and appointees*
· Faculty, management, staff and student employees
· Teaching and Research assistants
· Elected officials**
· Visiting researchers, academics, or administrators outside of the Broader Public Sector in Ontario
· Guest speakers or lecturers who are not paid
· Prospective employees or faculty
· Elected Officials outside of the Broader Public Sector
* Although Board Members are volunteers they a specifically identified as internal in the broader public sector directive.
** This refers to provincial officials only however, municipal officials are excluded per the broader public sector directive.
*** It is possible that an individual may be part of multiple groups, e.g. a student who is also a teaching assistant. For the purposes of determining acceptability of a hospitality expense, you should consider what capacity that individual is acting in for that specific event. For the above example, if the event was for student orientation then the student/TA would be considered external for that event.
In addition to the standard information that needs to be provided with the submission of an expense claim, a meeting or hospitality expense claim should include the following:
• A detailed description of the event or meeting with the purpose clearly stated, including:
• Event type
• Participant type
• For expenditures funded by a research grant, the description must clearly relate the expense to the research being funded by the grant.
• Indicate the most senior WLU participant at the event or meeting. It is recommended that the most senior participant incur the expense when feasible, to simplify the approval process.
• One-over-one approval from the most senior WLU participant.
• In circumstances where this means approval by the President or by the Board of Governors, the claim should indicate the most senior person and the additional approval will be obtained by Accounts Payable. The claim should still have approval from the appropriate signing authority for the department/index, to allow payment to be processed in a timely manner.
• Standard expense claim information includes:
• Original, detailed and itemized receipts
• Payee information
• Claim date
• Index code
• Proper accounting
• Appropriate signatory
For meeting expenses, all this information should be provided on the Meeting Expense Form that must be completed and submitted with all claims. A claimant can submit multiple meetings on a single form, provided a full description, with most senior participant, is provided for each meeting.
For hospitality expenses, all this information should be provided on the Hospitality Expense Form that must be completed and submitted with all claims or vendor invoices that are not ordered through WLU Food Services.
Once complete, the expense claim should be sent to Accounts Payable (202 Regina Street, Room 232) for payment. The online ordering process through Food Services, available only at the Waterloo Campus, for internal catering charges has been adjusted to be in compliance with the above submission requirements.
When using the purchasing card to pay for meeting and hospitality expenses, the same policies outlined in sections 10 to 10.5 apply. However, a PCard Meeting Expense Report or a PCard Hospitality Expense Report must be completed. It should then be submitted, with the purchasing card bank statement and with all receipts, to Procurement Services (255 King Street North, K403).
Miscellaneous Expense Regulations
Full-time WLUFA members, professional librarians and contract academic staff are entitled to a Professional Expense Reimbursement (PER). This expense is authorized for the purchase of items related to the performance and teaching duties of members. Expenditures can include, but are not limited to, the purchase of books, subscriptions, memberships in professional associations, equipment, and travel related expenses not covered by, or in excess of, other travel grants. All claims, with original receipts, are to be submitted to the appropriate Administrative Manager for processing.
If reasonable, and explained in detail, the purchase of flowers, cards, and modest gifts are eligible expenses. The original receipts are to be submitted to Accounts Payable, with proper signing authorization.
Software is an eligible expense. In most cases, the University’s Help Desk (http://info.wlu.ca/its/about/helpdesk.shtml) will issue a work order and install software on individual computers.
Proof of payment, and a description of the training, must be submitted to the signing authority for reimbursement.
Subjects participating in research studies can be paid for their time. Researchers must submit receipts, or a form containing the signatures of individuals who have received payment, along with the Research Participant Advance form to Accounts Payable. In cases where the Informed Consent Statement promises anonymity and/or confidentiality, the researcher must submit a copy of the Informed Consent Statement and the appropriate claim form testifying that he/she has paid research participants, giving details.
In specific circumstances, the University may benefit from supporting or participating in fundraising/sporting events. These circumstances are generally limited to the following business purposes:
• identification of donor prospects;
• cultivation/stewardship of current donors/prospects;
• specific duties associated with the event or related to the employee’s job performance;
• development of relationships and partnerships that will advance the University’s mission.
Where attendance is compliant with one of these business purpose criteria, approval is required by the department’s Vice President.
The following expenses are not permitted on employee or non-employee expenses reimbursement:
• passport expenses;
• interest charges on outstanding credit card balances;
• traffic and parking fines;
• expenses for failing to cancel transportation or hotel reservations, unless cancellation was due to work requirements and occurred after the cancellation deadline;
• excess personal baggage or loss or damage to personal possessions of the traveler;
• laundry expenses for less than 7 days of continuous travel;
• equivalent dollar reimbursement for non out-of-pocket costs such as use of airline reward point or other rewards programs;
• hotel pay movies;
• expenses for family members of traveling staff, unless pre-authorization has been granted;
• any other personal or excessive amounts;
• conference activities that are considered optional, i.e. golf tournaments;
• entertainment expenses (such as airline headsets, movies and sporting events) for the employee while traveling, unless incurred providing reasonable entertainment for customers or others;
• political event tickets or attendance by University officials at a political fundraising dinner.
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