Travelling for work: Expenses, reimbursements & allowances
September 28, 2016
We all hate the boring commute in the mornings, but for some employees, travelling for work is an inescapable part of their job.
We’re not just talking about people like airline attendants or taxi drivers, for whom travelling is the very essence of their role, but also employees such as salespeople who are required to attend face-to-face meetings, area managers who visit numerous stores or sites, and vets or doctors who make house calls.
If you have any employees who are required to travel away from their primary place of employment for work-related purposes, it is vital that you are suitably compensating them for such work.
If you have any employees who are travelling for work as a required part of their duties, it is important that you clearly outline how the travel expenses will be paid. Some examples include:
- the business provides the employee with property they can use for work-related travel purposes such as a company car, a fuel card or vouchers
- the business bears the travel expenses by booking and paying for transport, accommodation and meals in advance
- the employee bears the travel expenses and is later reimbursed that amount by the business
- the employee is provided with a travel allowance or lump sum payment to cover the anticipated costs of travel
Whichever the method you choose for your business, it needs to be clearly communicated to your employees. If an employee is allocated company property like a motor vehicle or fuel card, you should think about whether the employee is permitted to utilise it for “reasonable personal use” or whether it should be strictly confined to authorised business use.
If you work on a system of reimbursement of expenses incurred by an employee while undertaking work for the business, ensure that you advise your employees to obtain and keep receipts for all expenses which should be produced to the business before the reimbursement will be made.
We also recommend that you implement a policy outlining what will be considered reasonable and unreasonable expenses, or requiring that expenses be approved in advance by the business if you prefer.
Nearly every modern award contains some form of vehicle or travelling allowance, intended to compensate employees for the inconvenience or out-of-pocket expenses of travel. This is commonly expressed as a per-kilometre rate so you should require such employees to keep a detailed logbook of their work-related travel including recording the odometer at the start and end of each journey to ensure you are paying them the correct allowance.
For salaried employees, you may wish to incorporate a vehicle allowance into the annualised salary amount. This will require an estimate of the kilometres the employee is expected to travel during the year, which may not always be easy to calculate. If in doubt, round up and round up again – the last thing you want is an underpayment claim when we’re only talking about a matter of cents per kilometre travelled.
Employees should usually be paid for time spent travelling for work-related purposes, as it is part of their duties as much as answering phones, writing reports or providing customer service.
Time spent getting to and from work does not normally need to be compensated: the costs of this travel are borne by the employees themselves.
For more information on travel expenses, reimbursements and allowances and what this means for you, clients should contact the HR Assured team. If you’d like more information about the benefits of becoming an HR Assured client contact us today for an informal chat.