For companies with frequent travelers or mobile workers, your travel policy is incredibly important. A 2017 survey from Chrome River found that satisfaction of employees traveling for work has a very close correlation with employee satisfaction with the company’s travel policy. How well written and detailed your company travel policy for employees is will determine their overall engagement and satisfaction with their jobs, especially if travel plays a large role.

An effective travel policy needs to give employees flexibility while also providing them with clarity on protocols and procedures. This article will explain exactly what you need to include.

What a Company Travel Policy Does for Employers

When you have a well-constructed company travel policy for employees in place, it results in their happiness with their travels, but there are also many benefits for employers:

  • It will keep travel and expense reporting organized.
  • It will streamline both the submittal and receiving of reimbursements, keeping accounting and financial records organized and up-to-date.
  • It will save the company money by laying out clear rules for expense reporting and employee travel.
  • It will reduce fraudulent activity by providing detailed expense reporting guidelines.
  • Clearly outlined procedures will improve employee safety while traveling.

Before You Write Your Travel Policy, Set Clear Goals

Company travel policy can vary widely depending on the intentions for the document, your company culture and travel practices. For instance, your policy might focus more on procedures for air travel if you do business across the country. If you are a healthcare network or non-profit that covers a particular region, travel policy may focus on car travel, instead. Consider circumstances such as these when setting the goals for your company travel policy. These goals will help you determine what sections you need to include in your policy or give the most attention.

What Should Be Included in a Company Travel Policy for Employees

Vehicle Use

For those agencies with mobile employees, it’s important to clearly state what your policy is concerning use of vehicles. For instance, do you supply your employees with company vehicles, or are they required to use their personal vehicles for work related travel? If you do have company vehicles, do you prohibit your employees from using their personal vehicles for work use? In either case, you must determine how mileage and expenses will be tracked and reported. Without a clear policy on the subject, it will be difficult for you and your employees to judge how vehicles for work can be used in specific situations and will expose your company to fraudulent or careless activity.

Authorized and Unauthorized Expenses

Depending on the goals of the company travel policy for employees, detailing authorized and unauthorized expenses may end up spanning several sections. How you choose to organize it is not as important as what you include, though.

Be clear about what travel and other expenses will be authorized and therefore, reimbursed. For instance, will home commutes or side-trips to pick up supplies or grab a bite to eat be reimbursed? Will your company pay for meals, and if so, is there a per diem? Even if you think something goes without saying, your company travel policy is the place to state the obvious. List every travel and entertainment (T&E) item that your company will reimburse employees for as well as the items for which it won’t provide reimbursement. Some examples of authorized items may include fuel, food or roadside assistance. Some examples of unauthorized items may include parking tickets, a car wash or your morning coffee.

When outlining which T&E items are authorized or unauthorized, some things may need to come with restrictions or guidelines – for example, a per diem for meals. Make sure these guidelines are stated along with the items.

Method of Payment

Another issue that should be discussed along with authorized and unauthorized items is authorized and unauthorized payment methods. Do you provide a company credit card for expenses incurred during travel, or should employees use their personal funds and expect reimbursement later? These rules must be articulated along with the documentation you require to prove expenses such as credit card statements or itemized receipts.

There may also be special situations or emergencies that require employees to follow a different set of rules or get pre-approval before making a purchase. Perhaps an employee must book a hotel with their personal funds that is above the per diem limit; will they be reimbursed? There may also be an issue with the company’s credit card, forcing employees to buy gas or meals out of their own pocket. In instances such as these, outline clearly in your company travel policy for employees how payment should be handled

Reimbursement Procedures

Your company travel policy should provide employees with a step-by-step guide for the process of submitting expense reports for reimbursement. For employees, this process makes up a significant part of their workday and having a confusing system in place can greatly affect employees’ overall satisfaction and engagement with your company. It’s to your benefit to streamline this process.

Detail which documentation is required to submit an expense report such as receipts or credit card statements, in what timeframe employees are eligible to request a reimbursement for an expense and what the consequences will be for noncompliance with reimbursement procedures. If travel needs to be pre-approved for employees to be eligible for reimbursement, be sure to include how travel requests go through that approval process. If your company has an internal, multi-step expense reporting process, ensure that your company policy gives employees transparency on how this system looks, as well.

Expense Fraud

Expense fraud may not seem like a top concern for your company. After all, it’s usually only a few dollars at a time – pocket change, really. In all, though, expense fraud is costing US businesses almost three billion dollars each year. Allowing that type of practice to persist among your employees is a dangerous precedent to set. Laying out policy stating what expense fraud is and how your company plans to handle it will save you money in the future and set a standard for employees to follow.

Define what actions are considered fraudulent; mischaracterizing reimbursements, submitting false or altered reimbursements and submitting multiple reimbursements for the same expense are all considered fraudulent practices. For your purposes, you may expound more on what you consider to fall under the umbrella of expense fraud. Some activities, for instance may be strictly prohibited by your company, such as purchasing alcohol. For your employees’ benefit, list which activities you define as being fraudulent or prohibited and what the consequences will be for violations.

Employee Safety

With your employees on the move, its necessary to implement some safety procedures for their sake as well as the company’s. In the event of an accident, you don’t want to be held liable for failing to adequately ensure your workers’ safety and well-being.

For trips, you can request that employees submit a trip itinerary so that you know where they plan to be on the way to their destination. You may also institute regular “check-ins” to ensure they’ve reached their destinations. Also in the company travel policy, include information and resources they may need such as an emergency or on-call contact number and emergency protocols. Some companies even use employee tracking tools for travel. If your company chooses to use one of these tools, be sure to let your employees know in the policy.

Are You Using a Travel Expense Software?

If your company hasn’t already adopted a travel expense management software, you’re missing out on the many benefits it gives employers and their employees. A tool such as SureMileage by CompanyMileage manages all of your T&E needs and takes the onus off your employees to track mileage. By using point-to-point calculation, SureMileage takes the guesswork out of mileage calculation and eliminates instances of fraud. They can view, edit, submit, delete and resubmit trips and expenses, resulting in a much more streamlined expense reporting process for everyone. If you’re looking at your company travel policy for employees and wondering how to improve the business processes currently in place, a travel expense software is an excellent solution.

Improve employee safety, reduce expense fraud and revamp the reimbursement process with an app designed to help both employees and employers. Request a demo with CompanyMileage today, and learn more about SureMileage and our other solutions!