Meals, Travel and Entertainment Expense Reimbursement Procedures
The College has issued and approved of Policy G2 – Meals, Travel and Entertainment and directed the VP Finance and Administration to develop and maintain the Procedures set out in this document.
Red River College Polytechnic is committed to transparency, oversight, and responsible stewardship of public funds. These Procedures establish the mechanism whereby College employees shall incur and seek reimbursement of their expenses, whether out of pocket or on a College-issued credit card.
“Approving Authority” means:
- The manager of the budget center to be charged; or
- In the case of budget center managers, the person they report to.
“Business Meal” means 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.
“Internal Business Expenses” means business expenses that relate primarily to members of the College community including students, staff, faculty and members of governing or advisory boards (for example, expenses related to a staff retreat or working lunch).
“Communications Expenses” means expenses incurred by an employee related to telecommunications, for example the cost of charges for business related calls.
“Corporate Costs” means general administration costs relating to the administration of the College, including planning, organizing, directing and controlling the College including institutional expenses of the President’s Office.
“Hospitality” means the provision of food and beverages, social or recreational activities, events and functions and gifts in support of the educational, research or service activities of the College. Hospitality normally involves:
- the hosting of an external individual or group (e.g. prospective faculty, staff or student, business or academic partner, benefactor). Spouses/partners of College employees are normally not considered external guests; or employee only activities such as work meetings or social functions.
“Personal Meal” refers to an individual meal expense incurred by an employee while in Travel Status or as otherwise stipulated in the Collective Agreement.
“Policy” means Policy G2, the Meals, Travel and Entertainment Policy.
“Reimbursable Expenses” or “Expenses” means any travel, hospitality, communications or other business expenditures incurred on College business by, or reimbursed to a College employee in accordance with the Policy G2 but do not include Corporate Costs.
“Travel Expenses” mean expenditures incurred by a College employee to travel on College business occurring off of the College’s campuses or their primary place of work.
When authorizing travel requests, consideration should be given to other ways of achieving the desired outcome of the travel (e.g. in-house training programs, teleconferencing etc.) and minimizing the cost and environmental impact of the travel.
“Travel Status” means the absence of the employee from their headquarters area (a metropolitan or urban area of not less than 24 kms in diameter or as defined in the MGEU Collective Agreement) on College business involving travel and accommodation with the approval of the employer.
4.0 Approval Process
All expenses must be approved by the appropriate Approving Authority before the College issues a reimbursement. The Approving Authority will only issue approval in accordance with the Policy and Procedures.
Employees will seek preapproval from the appropriate Approving Authority for certain expenses:
- All travel expenses 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. Business Travel Application forms must be completed and signed prior to incurring any expenses.
- Staff Development must be pre-approved with any relevant human resources forms being completed and signed prior to incurring any expenses.
- Any other expenses identified in this Procedure as requiring pre-approval.
All expense claims for reimbursement and charges on College issued credit cards are subject to Finance review for compliance with College Policies and Procedures. The findings of any review or audit may result in expense claim adjustment and/or investigation and disciplinary action.
5.0 Documentation and Submission Process
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 to support an expense claim. A detailed itemized receipt must be provided. If the receipt does not include proof of payment, the employee is required to show that the cost has been incurred by the employee (i.e. credit card statement will also be required). 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. If the employee cannot provide a detailed itemized receipt for legitimate reasons, such reasons must be stated in writing on the expense claim form and signed by the employee submitting the expense claim.
Reasonable documentation must also be provided to support the exchange rate in effect when expenses were incurred if incurred in a currency other than the Canadian dollar.
If two or more employees are traveling or attending an event together, and a joint expense is incurred, the most senior 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.
An employee claiming reimbursement of expenses must prepare detailed claims including all supporting documentation (expense claim form, Staff Development and/or Business Travel Application form, and digital copy of original detailed receipts). The employee must attest to the truth and accuracy of the claims and submit along with all supporting documentation. All claims must be reviewed and approved by the Approving Authority.
Detailed information relating to all expenses must be provided. Upon request by an Approving Authority and/or Finance, 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.
Employees are responsible for ensuring that expense claims are submitted in a timely way and within six months of incurring the expense. Reimbursement requested more than six months past the date incurred may not be approved.
6.0 Travel Expenses
When the College designates a preferred travel agent, employees will book air travel through the College’s preferred travel agent, unless cost savings or other administrative factors are demonstrated by the claimant employee.
All air travel is to be booked in economy. Fare restrictions, flight times, discounts and reduced fares should be taken into consideration to obtain the most economical and practical fare.
Upgrades to business, first class or preferred seating may be done at the expense of the traveler. Evidence of price differential paid by the employee must be provided with the completed Expense Claim Form.
Upgraded travel in order to accommodate a medical condition may be granted upon advance approval from the Chief Human Resources Officer, or their designate.
The College will cover the cost of one checked bag. Any excess baggage charges during air travel resulting from operational requirements are eligible for reimbursement. Pre-approval must be granted in accordance with these Procedures.
Flight cancellation fees are not reimbursable, unless otherwise authorized by the applicable Approving Authority.
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 a hotel 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 these Procedures.
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).
Rewards points accumulated while travelling on College business or for expenses incurred under the Policy 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).
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.
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.
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 for taxis and ridesharing are reimbursable to a maximum of 15% of the total post-tax fare if included on the receipt.
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 traveling on College business are reimbursable.
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. Mileage is to be based on the shortest route available.
Mileage between an employee’s residence and the employee’s primary work location is not reimbursable unless otherwise expressly permitted by the approving authority.
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 less 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.
Trip Cancellation Charges
Trip cancellation charges are not reimbursable unless otherwise authorized by the applicable Approving Authority.
An employee who is eligible, as stipulated in the Collective Agreement, may claim reimbursement of a Personal Meal up to the maximum amounts set by the College.
Alternatively, the per diem meal allowance may be claimed. Employees must be in Travel Status, as stipulated in the Collective Agreement, 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.
Alcoholic beverages are not reimbursable.
7.0 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 Procedure.
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 expenses, or questions on how to make arrangements for the repayment of personal expenses, should be directed to the Approving Authority. The Approving Authority should contact the Finance Department for guidance where required.
8.0 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.
Expenses related to holidays and milestone work anniversaries/events may be reimbursed if otherwise permitted by College policy or procedure and pre-approved by the Approving Authority.
9.0 Business Meals
A Business Meal is a reimbursable expense.
Expenses related to alcohol are not generally reimbursable. Under exceptional circumstances, and with pre-approval from the applicable Approving Authority and Vice-President Finance and Administration, alcohol may be reimbursable where the purchase of alcohol has an identifiable business purpose.
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 for a business meal, costs should be minimized where possible.
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 these Procedures.
Where possible, invoices for expenses related to entertainment should be made out to Red River College Polytechnic.
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.
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 must 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.
12.0 Spouses and Partners
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.
13.0 Cash Advances
An employee may request a cash advance to pay for a pre-approved Expense through their Approving Authority and Finance. The claimant must submit an expense claim form and a Staff Development and/or Business Travel Application form with their request.
Where reasonably practicable, a request for a cash advance will be made to the Approving Authority and Finance at least 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.
After returning from the approved travel for which the cash advance was issued, the claimant must submit detailed receipts evidencing how the cash was spent and must return to the College any funds not spent on College business or that remain unexpended.
14.0 Other 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 these procedures:
- 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 kept to a minimum (i.e. a five-year passport will be selected instead of a ten-year passport).
- 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 post-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 Chief Human Resources Officer.
- 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 11.
- 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 Chief Human Resources Officer.
- Default charges or “no show” charges for hotel or car rental reservations.