Bursar's Memo to all Staff regarding Staff Expenses
To: All UCD Staff
Re: Staff Expenses
I am writing to clarify some issues which have arisen as part of an overall review of the procedures relating to the payment of staff expenses.
In most cases, claims are processed quickly and payment is made within seven days directly to the claimant’s bank account. Payment delays can be encountered for various reasons including incomplete or illegible authorisation, lack of supporting documentation, coding errors and the claiming of ineligible expenditure.
It is important that each staff member is familiar with the University’s expense payment policies and procedures and is aware of the importance of submitting accurate and fully documented claims. As a basic requirement, expense claims should be clearly presented, fully vouched and properly authorised. Information on specific expense related issues is detailed below for your information. Further details are also available on the Bursar’s Office web-site.
University’s travel policy & prior approval
The University’s travel policy is available at (www.ucd.ie/bursar/travelpolicy) and provides guidance on matters such as the use of business class travel, prior approval, spouses accompanying staff members, extending visits for personal purposes, etc. Staff members intending to travel abroad on University business should formally request prior approval by email from the officer to whom they report in respect of all planned absences.
Value for money
Staff members should make every effort to ensure that the value of their expense claims are kept to a minimum and represent value for money. Where possible, travel within Ireland should be by public transport rather than private car and business class travel should not be used except in accordance with the University’s travel policy.
Authorisation of claims
All expense claims must be authorised by an appropriate signatory. The general principle is that expense claims should only be authorised by the staff member to whom the claimant reports. Individuals are not permitted to authorise their own expense claims. Unauthorised or incorrectly approved expense claims are returned by the Finance Office for further authorisation.
Expense incurred by Authorised by
President Chair of Governing Authority
Vice President/Principal President/Registrar
Head of School/Support Unit Principal/Reporting Officer
School staff member Head of School
Research Account Manager Head of School
Research Staff Research Account Manager
Staff authorising claims should be aware that by approving expense claims, they are confirming that the expenses claimed are appropriate and relate to University business. If you have any concerns about authorising a particular expense claim, you should delay signing until you are satisfied with all aspects of the claim.
Supporting Documentation for Expense Claims
The most common reason for the return of expense claims by the Finance Office is the lack of supporting documentation attached to the claim form. It is not sufficient to detail “Research Trip” or “Business Trip” on the front of the claim form without providing evidence supporting the trip. This evidence could include conference booking forms, attendance lists, meeting agendas, e mails, invitations, itineraries or any other third party evidence. It may also be useful in some cases, to attach a brief memo detailing the purpose of the visit. All itemised expenses claimed on the expense form should be supported by a receipt or proof of payment.
In addition to providing the details required on the claim form relating to distances, destination, etc, km/mileage claims should also be supported by evidence confirming the reason for the trip undertaken. This evidence could include meeting agendas, emails, invitations, itineraries or any other third party evidence. In some cases, where no such material exists, a memo explaining the background to the claim should be attached. This evidence, which should be attached to the claim form, is particularly important for high value mileage claims.
Mileage claims for journies which start from home should always be based by reference to the distance from home or normal place of work, whichever is the shorter.
Eligible expenditure must be claimed within eighteen months. Claims for expenditure incurred before this cut-off date will not be paid.
Only expenses which are “wholly, exclusively and necessarily” incurred in the performance of employment duties may be reimbursed on a tax-free basis.
Clamping fees or parking fines will not be reimbursed by the University.
Charging of Personal Expenditure to Departmental and Research Accounts
Staff members should be aware that no personal expenditure should be charged to research or departmental accounts or any other university account.
Payments to Individuals
Claims requesting reimbursement of funds paid to individuals for work undertaken will not be paid. All such payments must be processed through payroll rather than paid directly and recovered through expenses.
Claimants seeking reimbursement for expenditure incurred on the purchase of airline tickets via the internet should attach a copy of the printed ticket and proof of payment.
Premium/ Business Class Travel
As a rule, all air travel should always be via economy class. Business/premium class should not be used without prior written approval from the Bursar. Further information on the use of business class travel is detailed in the University’s Travel Policy which is available in the policies section of the Bursar’s Office web-site.
Details of local and foreign subsistence rates are available on the Bursar’s Office web site (www.ucd.ie/bursar/travel_expenses.html).
These rates represent the maximum rates which can be claimed for specific locations. Subsistence claimed should be based on actual expenditure incurred and in the event of expenditure being lower than the rate allowed, the lower balance should be claimed. No subsistence is payable if no expenditure has been incurred. In many cases, the subsistence rate allowed is a combination of the vouched actual cost of accommodation plus a daily allowance and staff members should review the rates and requirements applicable to particular destinations before their departure. The practice of making claims based on subsistence rates rather than the actual vouched expenditure incurred is currently being reviewed.
In cases where staff members undertake long-haul journeys, subsistence should only be claimed from point of arrival in the overseas destination to the point of departure. It should not be claimed for the time spent on aircraft.
When claiming subsistence, staff should clearly detail on the expense form the calculation basis for the amount of subsistence claimed, i.e. the number of days and the relevant rate.
Staff members travelling on University business are covered by the University’s insurance policies. The cost of any additional policies taken out by staff members will not be refunded.
Staff members may request a travel advance by submitting a Form T2 to the Finance Office. Form T2 has recently been revised and can be downloaded from the Bursar’s Office web site. Advances are now restricted to 75% of expected travel and related costs and must be settled within two weeks of return by the submission of a full expense claim. The Finance, Remuneration and Asset Management Committee has confirmed that unsettled advances can be recovered as a deduction through the University payroll but it is hoped that such a measure will only be required as a last resort. Advances cannot be made to students or non-staff members.
Purchase of Equipment/Personal Computers/Consumables
Equipment such as personal computers should be purchased using an official UCD purchase order form and processed through the University’s payment system rather than claimed through the expense payment system. This ensures that the University complies with procurement, VAT and other purchasing policies.
Hospitality & Entertainment
When submitting a claim for hospitality or entertainment, the claim should clearly state the reason for the entertainment and the names of the guests attending. Any such expenditure should always be necessarily incurred and moderate in cost.
Expense Claims chargeable to Research Accounts
It is important to ensure that claims chargeable to research accounts comply with the regulations attached to the funding contracts. Some contracts do not permit conference travel, travel to certain countries, entertainment expenses, etc. The E.U. and S.F.I. do not allow any expenses in respect of entertainment or alcohol to be charged to their contracts. In such cases, any expenditure which will not be reimbursed by the funding agency, should not be charged to the grants.
Submission of a False or Exaggerated Claim
The staff expense payments system is open to audit by the University’s internal and external auditors and by the Revenue Commissioners and the Comptroller & Auditor General.
The submission of a false or exaggerated claim is a serious matter which may lead to disciplinary action being taken by the University. In addition, the University auditors, under the Criminal Justice (Theft & Fraud Offences) Act, 2001, are required to inform the Garda of any cases of fraud, irrespective of value, which come to their attention. In addition, all expense payments are subject to correspondence received under Freedom of Information leglisation.
Following the above guidelines and querying any payment issues before claim forms are submitted for payment, will ensure that your expense claims are processed without delay.
If you have any queries in respect of any of the issues raised in this letter, please contact John Kenny at 7161605 or at John.Kenny@ucd.ie