Staff Expenses Policy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Effective: May 2013

For details of the University's Expenses Policy click HERE

The Expenses claim form can be downloaded  HERE

Payment Timings

Expenses Claims are processed weekly and payment  is normally made by BACS electronic transfer to the member of staff’s bank account nominated for salary purposes on a Friday.  Only claims received by the Payments Office by Thursday of the previous week will be included in the payment cycle. Claims in respect of research and other services projects (R, S & T projects) must be sent 5 working days in advance of this deadline to allow time for checking and authorisation.  

These arrangements are subject to change due to public holiday/holiday closures details of which will be advised in advance via the Communications Office Staff Round Up. 

Year End Procedures

Claims received up to four weeks after the financial year end 31 July, will normally be included in the old year as they will usually relate to expenditure incurred in that financial year.  Staff should ensure that authorised claims relating to old year expenses are dated 31 July and sent to the Payments Office within this period in order that it is posted in the correct financial year.   

Introduction                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

 The purpose of the Expenses Policy is to: 

  • Define the University's Policy relating to expenses;
  • Provide guidance on the types of expenditure that can and cannot be reimbursed by the University;
  • Inform staff, and those authorising and controlling expenses, of their responsibilities; and
  • Relieve employees of the need to declare business expenses in an income tax return  

As a general rule, staff will be reimbursed for all reasonable expenses which they incur wholly, exclusively and necessarily in the course of the University's business. The University must, however, ensure that such payments comply with HM Revenue & Customs guidance and legal obligations. It is essential, therefore, that the rules detailed herein are followed when making an expenses claim in order to avoid any adverse tax consequences for the staff member or the University.  

1.2    Authorisation Procedures and Responsibilities

All expense claims should be summarised on a Staff Expenses Claim Form (Appendix A) and must be approved by an authorised signatory of more senior status, normally a Head of School/Director or appropriate line manager. Claims by a Head of School/Director must be authorised by an employee of more senior status, normally within the same budgetary group.  

Before signing an expense claim the authorised signatory must ensure that all expenditure being claimed relates to University business, is reasonable, and is in accordance with the Expenses Policy and any other relevant University guidance, such as the University’s Travel Policy, and Purchasing Regulations.

Self-authorised claims will not be accepted for payment under any circumstances and if a member of staff attempts to submit a false claim, this will be treated as a serious offence which may lead to disciplinary action.

 1.3    Receipts 

Original receipts or invoices, and relevant supporting information, must be provided as back up to expenses detailed on the Staff Expense Claim Form. Credit card vouchers or statements are not acceptable as proof of purchase.

1.4    Research

Claims for reimbursement of expenses from a research grant will also be subject to the funder's regulations on eligibility of expenditure, which may be more generous or less generous than the University Policy, and may not allow claims for subsistence allowances or certain other categories of expenditure. If a funder’s policy is more generous than the University’s Expenses Policy the University Policy will take precedence. Advice should be sought, in advance, from the Research Support Office regarding the permissible expenses of specific funders. The Research Support Office can be contacted on ext. 5181.

1.5    VAT

Staff are reminded of the importance of correctly recording VAT on expense forms and that VAT receipts or invoices are required with claims to ensure that the maximum amount of VAT can be successfully reclaimed by the University.

Further advice on VAT matters can be obtained from the University’s Tax Section on ext. 3073.

1.6    Advances

In special circumstances the University may provide a cash advance of between £100 and £1000. If an advance is required you should contact the Payments Office a minimum of two weeks before the funds are needed to discuss your requirements. The Payments Office will advise on the procedure to be followed, which will include you providing a detailed breakdown of anticipated expenditure.

In order to comply with HM Revenue & Customs guidelines advances must be used within six months, and accounted for at regular intervals by submitting expense claims for actual expenditure. The final expense claim, in respect of the advance, must be submitted not more than one month following completion of the travel/event to which the advance relates. If it is evident that, upon completion of the final expense claim, the full advance has not been used, any unspent funds must be returned to the Payments Office at the same time that the final expense claim is made.

The Payments Office can be contacted on ext. 3029.

2.         Expenses Policy and Associated Procedures 

2.1    Where a member of University staff incurs business expenditure personally, he/she will be reimbursed for amounts incurred wholly, exclusively and necessarily in the performance of their duties. Expenditure should be kept to a minimum and be consistent with the effective performance of work on behalf of the University.  Staff should neither gain nor lose financially with regard to expenditure incurred and reimbursed.

2.2    Claims for reimbursement of business expenses incurred personally should be made no later than 8 weeks following completion of the travel or event to which the expenditure relates. This will ensure that the purpose and reasons for the claim are current, clear and understood by both the claimant and authorising signatory, and that timely recording can be made for budgetary and control purposes.

2.3    The following are business expenses which staff are permitted to incur personally and reclaim via a Staff Expenses Claim Form: 

  • Business travel in a private vehicle (Mileage allowance) 

           Refer to Section 3 below. 

  • Subsistence

           Refer to Section 4 below. 

  • Public transport, including taxis 

In general staff should use the most economical class of travel, and use taxis only when public transport is not suitable – further information is provided in the University’s Travel Policy

  • Car parking

This relates only to car parking away from the employees normal place of work, and must be supported by a receipt or parking ticket. Parking fines or other penalties will not be reimbursed. 

  • Petrol for hire cars  

Petrol costs can only be claimed, with a valid receipt, in respect of hired vehicles. If using a private vehicle to travel on University business a mileage allowance must be claimed instead. 

  • Entertaining and hospitality 

           Refer to Section 5 below. 

  • Telephone/Internet costs 

The cost of business calls and business internet use can be claimed if they are supported by an itemised bill or receipt. The University will not bear the cost of any part of any line rental charges or equipment costs. 

2.4    The cost of flights, hotels and car hire should not be incurred personally, and will not be reimbursed on a Staff Expenses Claim Form. Costs associated with spouse/partner travel, or costs relating to any personal travel which is attached to a period of business travel, are not business expenses and cannot be reclaimed.

You should refer to the University Travel Policy for further guidance on these matters.

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3.      Mileage

3.1    Car Mileage

Staff using their private vehicle for business travel may claim reimbursement at University approved mileage rates detailed below:

Cumulative Mileage                            Rate per Mile

In Tax Year

Up to 10,000 miles                              45p per mile

Over 10,000 miles                               25p per mile

It is University policy not to pay for mileage which represents that normally incurred for travel between home and work. As such, the University will only pay for mileage which is in excess of normal commuting. This means that, where a member of staff is required to work at a location other than their normal workplace, the normal return mileage should be subtracted from the total mileage travelled. For example, an employee living in Lisburn and working in Belfast who is required to work for one day in Armagh would claim:

Travel from home to Armagh (return)               60 miles
Normal commuting to work mileage (return)     18 miles

Mileage claimable                                            42 miles

Full details of all journeys, including the date, reason for the journey, starting point and destination for each, should be shown on the Staff Expenses Claim Form.

3.2    Motorcycle and Cycle Mileage

Staff using their motorcycle or cycle for business related travel may claim reimbursement at the University approved mileage rates detailed below: 

                                                                        Rate per Mile        

                                                     (limited to 4,000 miles)

Motorcycle                                             24p per mile

Cycle                                                      20p per mile

Normal commuting mileage should be deducted in a similar way to that noted in Section 3.1 above.

3.3    Mileage claims - Car Insurance

The University does not provide car insurance cover for staff using their own vehicles. Staff are required, therefore, to take out personal motor insurance with an appropriate extension to cover use in connection with University business, and this must be confirmed on the Staff Expenses Claim Form. The mileage rates payable by the University include an element to defray the cost of insurance as well as vehicle depreciation and fuel.

4.      Subsistence

Staff can claim the cost of subsistence (meals) whilst travelling on University business, and during the associated period that they are away from home. A subsistence claim can either be on the basis of actual costs incurred, supported by receipts or, in some circumstances, a subsistence allowance.

4.1    Receipts basis

         Staff incurring subsistence expenditure whilst travelling on University business may claim the reasonable cost of food, and drink which is taken with a meal, by submitting the actual receipts for expenditure.

4.2    Subsistence Allowance

An alternative to reimbursement on the receipts basis is to claim a subsistence allowance. If staff are required to work at a location which is more than five miles away from both their home and their normal place of work, a subsistence allowance can be claimed. The subsistence rates listed below represent the maximum permissible rates available. Schools/Directorates may, on occasions, wish to apply a separate arrangement whereby the subsistence rates offered are less than those outlined below. Such treatment does not contravene the rules and is therefore acceptable. Only one subsistence allowance (daily/overnight/’staying with friends’) may be claimed in respect of a specific period, and the receipts basis may not be claimed in addition to any subsistence allowance.

It should be noted that, in order to comply with HM Revenue & Customs rules, a subsistence allowance can only be claimed if some expenditure has actually been incurred. It is not permissible to claim a subsistence allowance if no expenditure has been incurred, which may be the case if all meals and drinks are provided to you at no cost. If you submit a Staff Expenses Claim Form which includes a claim for a subsistence allowance then, by signing the Claim, you are indicating to HM Revenue & Customs that you have incurred some actual expense.

4.2.1 Subsistence Allowance - Daily Rates

If travel is completed within a single day one of the following allowances may be claimed:

Length of Absence      Rate

 More than 5 hours         £4.25

  More than 10 hours    £9.30

4.2.2 Subsistence Allowance - Overnight Rates

If an overnight stay is required one of the following allowances may be claimed:

Location                                   Rate

UK & Ireland                              £20.00

Overseas (non UK & Ireland)     £25.00

It should be noted that the overnight allowance is payable in respect of nights spent away from home, so that, for example, if away from home from Monday, returning Wednesday, and consequently away on Monday and Tuesday night, the allowance claimable for a trip within the UK & Ireland is 2 x £20 = £40

5.      Entertaining

The general principle regarding the reimbursement of entertainment expenditure is that staff members will be reimbursed reasonable entertaining costs for themselves and guests, where guests are present for a professional purpose, and their presence is considered to be beneficial to the University.

Expenses for entertaining will only be reimbursed in relation to staff who have a valid reason for being present. As a guide, an appropriate cost for entertaining is considered to be £18 per head for lunch and £30 for dinner to include wines and gratuities. Any expenditure likely to be in excess of this should be approved in advance by the Head of School/Director.

It is stressed that no reimbursement of entertaining expenses will be made unless the above guidelines are followed. In addition, it should be noted that the University will not contribute to the cost of entertaining when only members of staff are involved and, in all circumstances, the cost and ratio of staff to guests will need to be justifiable to HM Revenue & Customs.

The following information should be included on/with Staff Expenses Claim Form regarding entertaining expenditure:

  • names of attendees
  • the organisation they represent
  • the purpose of the entertainment (e.g. negotiation of contract)
  • appropriate receipts.

6.      Enquiries

All enquiries regarding this Policy, and the treatment outlined within, should be directed to the Payments Office on ext 3029.