G2 – Meals, Travel and Entertainment
Originator: Vice President, Finance and Administration
Approver: President’s Council
Effective: June 17, 2015
Replaces: January, 2014
Red River College pays all reasonable expenses employees incur while traveling or attending functions on College business. The College wishes to achieve the best value for all such expenditures while also balancing the health and well-being of College staff. To that end, this Policy and the procedures contained herein provide fair and reasonable rules which govern the reimbursement of expenditures incurred by employees while carrying out business on behalf of the College.
This Policy applies to all employees of the College, and covers all travel, meal, hospitality and entertainment expenditures incurred by staff in the course of their College employment. Only expenditures directly related to College business will be reimbursed. Employees are expected to keep expenditures at a minimum using the most economical and reasonable options. Employees are expected to keep detailed accurate records, including original receipts, for all expenditures incurred. Employees are expected to complete such reimbursement forms as the Finance and Administration department stipulates. Failure to keep accurate records, original receipts or complete required claim forms may result in expenditures not being reimbursed. The College assumes no obligation to reimburse expenditures that are not in compliance with this Policy.
“Approving Authority” means:
- The manager of the budget center to be charged; or
- In the case of budget center managers, the person he/she reports to.
Where the budget center to be charged for an expense, is not the employee’s department, both the budget center manager to be charged and the employee’s supervisor must approve the expense.
All reimbursement claims and travel authorizations must be detailed, signed by the claimant employee, include all supporting documentation (expense claim form, Staff Development and/or Business Travel Application form, and original detailed receipts), and be approved by the Approving Authority.
Staff Development and/or Business Travel Application forms must be completed and signed prior to incurring any expenses.
Detailed information relating to all expenses must be provided. Upon request by an Approving Authority, itineraries are required for all trips longer than 24 hours. An itinerary may include, but is not exclusive to, a conference or meeting agenda, hotel confirmation, and/or flight confirmation.
Where reasonably practicable, any changes to authorized expenditures must also be approved. Reasons for the change must be noted.
All travel requiring air or rail transportation must be preapproved. All overseas travel must also be preapproved by the associated Dean or Director. The Approving Authority (and Dean or Director if required) is responsible for determining whether the projected expense can be budgeted.
In determining whether to grant any approval, the Approving Authority must assess whether the expenditure is for a legitimate College purpose, will benefit the College in a demonstrable way, is a reasonable priority for the College, is an efficient use of College resources, and is otherwise compliant with this Policy.
In the case of the President, s/he must get approval from the Chair of the Board of Governors or designate. Where an exception or authorization may be granted under this policy by the Vice President Finance and Administration, the President will get approval from the Chair of the Board of Governors or his/her designate.
4. Reinbursement of Expenses
Only expenditures incurred on behalf of College business are reimbursable.
Expenses must be time and cost effective relative to available alternatives (teleconferencing, video conferencing) and expected benefits.
The number of employees attending the same meeting or professional development activity should be kept to a minimum.
Should employees add personal travel to a business trip, or upgrade the mode of travel, all additional costs will be the responsibility of the employee who incurred those costs (including, but not limited to, car rentals, travel upgrades, accommodations, and meals).
College corporate credit cards are not for personal use. Personal charges on a College corporate credit card will not be paid by the College.
If two or more employees are traveling or attending an event together, and a joint expense is incurred, the highest employee in the College’s organizational structure will incur and claim the expense. If the employees are on the same hierarchical level, the employee with the greatest connection to the expense incurred will claim the expense. Where possible, employees should individually and separately incur and process expenses.
Each expense claim must be completed using the requisite form(s) and have corresponding original documentation to support the expense. Credit card or debit card receipts are not ￼￼ sufficient – a detailed itemized receipt must be provided. If the receipt is in a language other than English, the receipt must be translated by an independent third party. The independent third party may be College staff.
Employees will be prepared to verify the use of expensed travel.
If receipts are missing, a signed written detailed explanation must be provided with the expense claim.
Reasonable documentation must also be provided to support the exchange rate in effect when expenses were incurred.
5. Air Travel Guidelines
Air travel must be booked through the College’s preferred travel agent, unless demonstrated cost savings or other administrative factors are demonstrated by the claimant employee.
All air travel is to be booked in economy class unless otherwise authorized by the Vice President of Finance and Administration. Fare restrictions, flight times, discounts and reduced fares should be taken into consideration to obtain the most economical and practical fare.
Upgraded travel in order to accommodate a medical condition may be granted upon advance approval from the Vice President, Human Resource Services & Sustainability, or designate.
The College will cover the cost of one checked bag. Excess baggage or weight charges may be claimed if the employee is required to transport bulky items on behalf of the College or if additional baggage is required for a College business purpose. Approval must be granted in accordance with section 3.
Flight cancellation fees are not reimbursable, unless otherwise authorized by the applicable Approving Authority.
6. Hotel Accommodation
The College covers the cost of a single occupancy room, taxes and non-discretionary hotel charges. Employees are expected to stay at accommodations that are average for the area and that offer the most economical rate. Corporate discount rates, if applicable, should be requested.
Travelling employees attending a conference, convention or meeting may stay at the host hotel or suitable accommodations within a reasonable distance of the conference, convention, or meeting.
Expenses on the receipt must be itemized. Any meal related items appearing on the hotel bill must be supported with detailed meal receipts and be in accordance with section 14, 15 or 16 of this policy.
Cancellation of any room reservations must be processed in a manner that minimizes any costs to the College. Unnecessary additional accommodations will not be reimbursed. Employees should arrange for late check-ins, late checkouts or storage of bags, as opposed to incurring charges for additional night(s).
7. Rewards Points
Rewards points accumulated while on College business are the property of the employee.
All costs associated with rewards programs are the responsibility of the employee. Employees may collect loyalty/reward points as long as it does not result in a conflict of interest and no extra cost is incurred by the College. A conflict of interest would occur if an employee chooses to collect a reward that results in a higher cost to the College (such as choosing a hotel offering a loyalty program over a less expensive hotel).
8. Telephone/Internet Charges
Employees may claim reasonable charges for telephone calls, facsimiles, e-mail and internet services necessary for College business.
Employees travelling internationally, with a corporate-issued mobile device, must purchase an international cellphone package.
While in Travel Status and staying overnight in commercial accommodation, an employee will be reimbursed for one personal long distance phone call of reasonable length and cost, per day. Employees are required to utilize the most economical method when making long distance calls (such as calling cards). “Travel Status” means an employee is at least 24 km away from his/her primary work location on College business involving travel and/or accommodation with the approval of the employer.
Employees should inquire into the hotel billing policy for telephone calls and internet services before using such services.
9. Conference Activities
Conferences may have special activities and events for registrants. Conference activities that include all participants, and are an integral part of the conference, are normally allowable as a College business expense, subject to the approval process outlined in this Policy.
Conference activities such as golf or other leisure events connected to the conference are considered to be personal expenses and will typically not be reimbursed by the College.
If the College has paid for non-reimbursable activities and events when paying the conference registration fees, the staff member should attach to the requisition a personal cheque in payment for the non-reimbursable expenses.
Any questions as to the appropriateness of conference expense, or questions on how to make arrangements for the repayment of personal expenses, should be directed to the Approving Authority under section 3. The Approving Authority should contact the Finance Department for guidance where required.
10. Rail Transportation
Rail transportation may be reimbursable if it is the most economical and efficient means of transportation available. Employees should book the most economical rate available. Where overnight travel is necessary, a sleeping compartment designed for one person may be used.
11. Ground Transportation
Ground transportation (taxies, shuttles, car rentals, and parking) are reimbursable where an employee is in Travel Status. The method of ground transportation must be the most cost efficient option. “Travel Status” means an employee is at least 24 km away from his/her primary work location on College business involving travel and/or accommodation with the approval of the employer.
a. Taxis, Shuttles, Airport Parking
Taxi fares between home and airport, or airport parking fees are reimbursable. When choosing whether to use a taxi or park at the airport, the employee must choose the option that is most cost effective.
Taxi fares between College campuses within Winnipeg may be reimbursable if, after considering both cost and time efficiency, it is determined to be the most reasonable mode of transportation. Employees will consider using a personal vehicle, a College vehicle, bus, or car-pooling before using a taxi.
Gratuities are reimbursable where it does not exceed 15% of the total fare.
b. Ground Transportation – Car Rentals and Parking
Car rentals should only be used when they are the most economical means of transportation relative to need. An appropriate explanation must be detailed on the expense claim form.
The College prefers that car rental costs are charged to the College corporate credit card since Primary Worldwide Car Rental Collision Loss and Damage Insurance, up to the full value of the rented vehicle, is included. If a College corporate credit card is not used for the rental, employees must ensure adequate insurance coverage either through their personal credit card or the rental car agency.
Compact cars and intermediate sized vehicles are to be used unless four or more College employees are traveling together. The employee is responsible for refilling the gas tank and otherwise returning the rented vehicle in the condition required by the rental agency. Parking fees incurred while on College business are reimbursable.
c. Ground Transportation – Personal Vehicle
Employees may use their personal vehicles on behalf of College business. Reimbursement for mileage will be set in accordance with the Collective Agreement (the reimbursement rate also applies to out of scope employees). Where an employee elects to drive as opposed to fly to a destination, reimbursement will be the lesser of the applicable airfare or the mileage reimbursement.
When claiming mileage, details must be provided for the location traveled to and traveled from. Actual odometer readings or mileage based on the shortest route on a web mapping application such as Google Maps are to be used.
Mileage between an employee’s residence and the employee’s primary work location is not reimbursable unless otherwise expressly permitted.
When traveling on College business from home to a location which is not the employee’s primary work location, mileage may be claimed as follows – the reimbursable mileage is equal to the distance traveled subtracted by the distance from the employee’s home to primary work location.
An Approving Authority may require the staff within their department to use a College vehicle instead of a personal vehicle.
Employees are responsible for ensuring they have all necessary insurance coverage, including travel health/medical insurance, prior to travelling on College business. Employees should contact Human Resource Services to confirm what insurance coverage they have.
Any additional insurance required to be purchased for travel on College business is reimbursable, provided that the insurance only covers the duration of the employee’s trip while on College business.
Employees travelling outside Canada and the US are covered by the College’s Comprehensive General Liability Insurance.
Trip cancellation insurance is not reimbursable.
13. Trip Cancellation Charges
Trip cancellation charges are not reimbursable unless otherwise authorized by the applicable Approving Authority.
14. Personal Meals
A “Personal Meal” refers to an individual meal expense incurred by an employee while in Travel Status.
“Travel Status” means an employee is at least 24 km away from his/her primary work location on College business involving travel and/or accommodation with the approval of the employer.
A Personal Meal is reimbursable up to the maximum amounts set by the College.
Alcoholic beverages are not reimbursable.
Detailed receipts must be provided for reimbursement. Credit card or debit card receipts alone are insufficient.
Alternatively, the per diem meal allowance may be claimed. Employees must be in Travel Status to be eligible for a per diem allowance. To be eligible for the maximum per diem allowance, which contemplates actual purchases for breakfast, lunch and dinner, employees must be in Travel Status from 7 a.m. (or earlier) until 7:30 p.m. (or later).
A Personal Meal, or a per diem meal allowance, may not be claimed where food is provided by a conference or other event.
15. College Meetings and Special Occasions
An employee may incur meal or beverage expenses as part of a working session when a College meeting must occur over the ordinary lunch time period. To be eligible for reimbursement, the meeting must be a minimum of one hour and be attended by at least five College personnel.
When requesting reimbursement for meeting food or beverages, the claimant employee must detail the meeting attendees, the discussion topic, the benefit to the College, and the reason an ordinary meeting (without food) was insufficient for the purpose.
Subject to section 3 – approvals, holidays and milestone work anniversaries/events may be reimbursed if otherwise permitted by College policy or procedure.
16. Business Meals
A “Business Meal” refers to a meal where at least one College employee and one or more non-College individuals is in attendance. The Business Meal must have a business related purpose and an identifiable benefit to the College.
A Business Meal is a reimbursable expense.
Under exceptional circumstances, and with pre-approval from the applicable Approving Authority, alcohol may be reimbursable.
When claiming a Business Meal the claimant employee must provide the names and titles of all persons in attendance, the College business that was discussed, the benefit to the College and a detailed itemized receipt.
The number of College representatives attending a Business Meal shall be kept to a minimum. Only those employees with the most direct involvement in the business purpose of the event should attend.
When choosing the venue costs should be minimized where possible.
“Hospitality” refers to the provision of transportation or other amenities to guests that are not College staff.
Hospitality is reimbursable where approved in accordance with section 3.
When arranging hospitality, costs should be minimized where possible, and have due regard for the nature, size and purpose of the event.
The cost of attending a gala or sporting event may be reimbursable, if there is a demonstrable benefit to the College and preapproval is granted in accordance with section 3.
Where possible, invoices should be made out to Red River College.
To receive reimbursement, the claimant employee must detail the business purpose of the event, the name/title of accompanying persons (there must be at least one non-College person attending), and provide detailed and itemized receipts.
Under exceptional circumstances, and with pre-approval from the applicable Approving Authority, alcohol may be reimbursable.
Entertainment events attended only by other College personnel are not reimbursable.
Employees wishing to sponsor a third-party organization by donation (cash or inventory), or purchasing event tickets, must comply with the College’s Conflict of Interest policy and Sponsorship Guidelines.
Where a donation receipt is issued for the purchase of tickets to a special function or event, and the College either paid for the ticket(s) directly or by reimbursing the employee, the receipt should be issued in the College’s name.
Donations to political parties or political candidates, and expenses related to the ticket purchase or attendance at a political fundraising function, are not reimbursable.
19. Spouse/Signficant Other
Expenses incurred by a spouse or significant other are not reimbursable, unless pre-approval has been granted by the Vice President Finance and Administration. If approval is granted, the Vice President will stipulate the type of expense and maximum dollar amount that may be claimed.
20. Cash Advances
An employee may request a cash advance through his/her Approving Authority and the College’s Controller department. The claimant must submit an expense claim form and a Staff Development and/or Business Travel Application form with his/her request
Where reasonably practicable, a request for a cash advance will be made to the College’s Controller department 30 days before travel.
A cash advance will not exceed 75% of the projected travel expenses.
The cash advance will be issued in Canadian funds. The claimant is responsible for arranging exchange into foreign currency.
Upon return, the claimant must submit detailed receipts.
21. Other Reimbursable and Non-Reimbursable Expenses
The following list is a non-exhaustive list of reimbursable expenses, which may be claimed only when detailed supporting documentation is provided and approved in accordance with section 3:
- Laundry/pressing charges if the traveler is away in excess of four consecutive nights and the clothing is attire for College related business.
- Dry cleaning charges may be permitted where a dry-clean-only article is soiled, and will be required for a College business related event later in the same trip.
- The flat rate accommodation reimbursement for employees who stay with relatives or friends in an amount set by the College.
- Visa, inoculations, medications recommended by international health advisories for international travel (e.g. malaria medication is frequently required in countries such as South America, India, Africa).
- If approved by the applicable Approving Authority and the Director of International Education, passport, and passport related expenses, required for international travel on College business. Passport and passport related expenses will be a kept to a minimum (i.e. a five year passport will be selected instead of a 10 year).
- Gifts, corporate or otherwise (including gift cards), up to a maximum of $100 per person, for awards/prizes, senior visiting officials, senior international visitors, guest speakers, or Elders (e.g. Tobacco for elders, flowers for a speaker, college mug, or a ‘made in Manitoba’ gift etc.). Details of the gift, information pertaining to the recipient, and the circumstances of the gift must be provided for reimbursement.
- Baggage handling and storage, where appropriate.
- Exchange rate expenses.
- Per diem amounts for incidentals as specified by the Collective Agreement for each night in commercial lodging.
- Fifteen-percent (15%) of the pre-tax meal total for gratuities, unless a non-discretionary gratuity is automatically added to the bill by the service establishment.
- Rental of sporting equipment if approved for a specific College business event, provided that rental rates are reasonable and do not exceed $100.
An expenditure not listed may be reimbursed only if detailed supporting documentation is provided, it is incurred for a College business purpose, supported by detailed documentation, and is approved in accordance with section 3.
The following is a non-exhaustive list of non-reimbursable expenses:
- Expenses incurred by travel partners.
- Interest payments resulting from late credit card payments.
- Expenses of a personal nature such as barbering, toiletries and shoeshine.
- Movies and minibar expenses.
- Personal luggage and briefcases.
- Gifts for staff or family (including gifts for compassionate reasons), unless otherwise approved by the Vice President Finance and Administration or the Vice President Human Resource Services and Sustainability.
- Personal entertainment.
- Annual airline club dues or reward program dues/fees.
- Traffic and parking fines.
- Expenses when paid, reimbursed, or provided by an outside organization.
- Expenses resulting from vacation extensions to a business trip.
- Expenses for sporting events, theatre, etc. such as tickets, fees and transportation to and from, unless they qualify under section 18.
- Expenses related to personal vehicles, unless permitted by the terms and conditions of employment of the employee.
- Retirement related expenses unless otherwise approved by the Vice President of Human Resource Services & Sustainability.
- “no show” charges for hotel or car rental reservations.
Violating this policy or otherwise abusing the College’s expense claim process may result in discipline, up to and including termination.
Related Policies and Legislation
Collective Agreement between MGEU and Red River College
P1 – Principles of Conduct
P3 – Conflict of Interest
P4 – Conflict of Commitment
P5 – Ethical Behaviour