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Travel, Hospitality, and Business Expense Policy

Revised July 2009

Policy

Travel

The basic policy guiding travel and business hospitality expense reimbursement is that the individual traveler should neither gain nor lose personal funds as a result of travel or business hospitality assignments and that these assignments be planned so that their cost will not exceed budgetary limitations. Thus, each traveler is to be fully reimbursed for all necessary and reasonable expenses incurred in connection with travel for official Simmons College business, but should make efforts to keep all expenses at a reasonable minimum.

Travelers are expected to use sound business judgment as to the nature and level of expenses, which provides adequate standards of comfort, convenience, safety and efficiency, and to bear the full cost of all items of a personal nature. This policy and related procedures apply to all employees and to non-employees traveling on behalf of Simmons College regardless of the source of funding.

Travelers should not make commitments to travel or to incur travel or business hospitality expenses without first obtaining the appropriate approvals from the appropriate Vice President, Provost or Dean and Department Head or Director in advance of the trip. All travel and business hospitality expenses should be charged to a credit card, preferably the College credit card if applicable.

Some units in the College may have more restrictive travel requirements than contained in this document. It is the responsibility of the traveler to be aware of and to comply with travel requirements of their respective unit.

The College does not reimburse on a per diem basis except in the case of some externally funded grants. This per diem form of reimbursement requires prior approval in advance of travel.

Professional Development

Simmons College recognizes the importance of faculty and staff professional development and memberships in external professional organizations, subscriptions to professional journals, and newspapers are often part of this professional development.

It is also important for the College to have operating policies for faculty and staff that ensures all expenses are being annually reviewed for cost and benefit, duplication, and increased cost savings. Rather than a system where memberships, dues and subscription renewals are often done as reimbursements, we are moving to a system where memberships, dues and subscriptions are discussed and approved in advance prior to renewal.

This policy outlines a more formal approval process for memberships, dues and subscriptions for faculty and staff. It also addresses allowable expenditures for professional memberships, certification fees, subscriptions, membership dues to private clubs, as well as IRS implications and a new approval process involving your President's Council member.

Procedures

Travel and Business Hospitality

Accountable Plan

In order to exclude business expense reimbursements from employee income, the College must maintain an "accountable plan" for all employee business expenses. Expenses not meeting all three of the below conditions may be taxable to the employee and therefore subject to W-2 reporting. Under Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations for an accountable plan, expenses are required to meet the following three conditions:

There must be a business connection and only for business expenses that are ordinary and necessary in the performance of duties as an employee.

All business expenses must be substantiated with the date, amount, place, and business purpose of the expense and should be submitted to the College within 20 days of return. If not submitted within this timeframe, the traveler is not guaranteed payment. Specific documentation requirements are noted throughout the policy.

Employees are required to return all amounts in excess of substantiated expenses.

Travel

For travel on College business, particularly between major cities and their environs, transportation by commercial means is recommended.

Commercial transportation expense is reimbursed on the basis of the actual cost incurred by the traveler for the direct-distance air fare, rail fare or other public means of transportation by the usually traveled route with due consideration on the part of the traveler to select the class of service available to accomplish the travel at the most appropriate rate structure.

Air Travel

Travel via jet aircraft is considered the standard mode for air transportation. Simmons has special negotiated airfares with several agencies that can result in significant cost savings. Each traveler is encouraged to contact the Procurement Office for more information regarding the agencies. However, any carrier that offers the lowest fare to the maximum extent possible may be used.

Travelers using online or independent travel agencies must document the lowest available coach fare to the destination traveled and submit this information with the completed Travel Requisition Form. The approved form should be maintained for documentation. For most domestic flights, the lowest available coach fare will be reimbursed due to the substantial price differential in air accommodations.

In recognition of different factors that affect business travel, the College recognizes the legitimate reimbursement of business class fare using the six-hour rule. Travelers may travel in Business Class when a flight has a scheduled in air flying time greater than six hours. Before booking this airfare, travelers must first obtain prior approval from their Vice President, Provost or Dean. Approval must be clearly noted on the Travel Requisition Form.

Private Automobile Travel

The transport of equipment in a private vehicle is strongly discouraged due to the potential exposure for property damage or loss.

When travel by private automobile is desirable to save time or to reduce costs because a number of persons are traveling to the same destination together, reimbursement is based on the prevailing IRS rate rounded down to the nearest whole penny. This mileage allowance is intended to cover all transportation and operating costs, including fuel. No reimbursement will be made for the cost of repairs to the vehicle, replacement of the vehicle, insurance deductibles or surcharges, whether they result from the traveler's acts or the acts of others. Ferry, bridge, tunnel, toll road and reasonable parking charges are allowed in addition to the mileage allowance. Under no circumstances will the Simmons' traveler be reimbursed for traffic tickets due to parking or motor vehicle violations.

When private automobile is used to points beyond 300 miles (round trip) of the point of origin, primarily for the convenience of the traveler, the reimbursement will not exceed the lesser of the cost of the appropriate round trip airfare between the nearest commercial airport serving the origin and destination cities or the prevailing IRS mileage reimbursement rate.

Car Rental

The use of a rental car for official Simmons business may be authorized when other transportation is not available or when rental car use results in savings of cost or time. Neither personal or leisure use of rental cars beyond the dates for reimbursable travel nor use of rental cars by a traveler's family members is covered by Simmons.

When travel requires only rental cars, please use preferred vendors that the College has negotiated discount agreements. Information regarding the preferred vendors is available by calling the Procurement Office.

It is imperative that all changes pertaining to car rental reservations be confirmed by telephone prior to picking up/dropping off the vehicle, e.g. changes to the rental period, the return location, etc., as such changes made at the rental counter may negate the Simmons discount.

No other vendors should be used except in locations where these preferred vendors are not available or special rates offered by other rental agencies is less expensive.

Please refer to the Travel Insurance section on rental cars prior to renting your vehicle.

15-Passenger Vans

The use of 15-passenger vans is not an approved travel expense.

Rail and Miscellaneous

Rail travel may be used when the traveler finds it convenient. Rail travel is reimbursable as long as the total cost of the trip is comparable to, or less expensive than, the lowest available coach airfare.

Shuttle service to and from airports and railroad stations, plus tips, are reimbursed to the extent such service is not included in air and rail fares.

Taxi fares, including tips, are reimbursed where public transportation or shuttle service is not practical or available. This includes taxis between hotels and railroad stations or airports, between appointments or between hotels and places of temporary duty.

Foreign Travel Paid from Federal Sources

For international travel funded from federal grants and contracts, a U.S. flag air carrier must be used in accordance with the Fly America Act. If a foreign airline must be used, it must have a code sharing agreement with a U.S. air carrier. This means the ticket stock or documentation for electronic tickets must identify the U.S. airlines designator code, and flight number must comply with the Act.

Foreign Exchange

Expenses incurred in a foreign currency will be valued in U.S. dollars at an exchange rate based on an average daily rate determined by the dates of the traveler's trip. Foreign exchange rates can be found on the internet. Two preferred websites are: http://www.x-rates.com/ and http://www.x-rates.com/.

Lodging Expenses

Travelers should use standard accommodations. The selection of appropriate room accommodations is governed by a wide variety of circumstances, many of them not within the direct control of the traveler. Expenses for lodging are reimbursed for each trip based on actual expense.

In instances of shared rooms, the names of both occupants and room cost allocation should be explained on the Travel Expense Report.

The College has received a tax exemption certificate from the states of Colorado, Florida, New York, Rhode Island and Texas. The certificate exempts those traveling from being charged any room tax or occupancy tax on their hotel bills. These taxes can be substantial, especially in New York City. The exemption certificate must be presented at the time you are registering at the hotel. Please contact the Procurement Office prior to travel and they will furnish the necessary forms and information.

Food Expenses

Travelers should eat in restaurants or dining rooms in close proximity of their hotel and use transportation only when necessary. Itemized food & beverage expense receipts are required.

Alcoholic beverages should be purchased only for rare circumstances and must be pre-authorized. Alcoholic beverages must be segregated and charged to an appropriate non-federal departmental account.

Business Meeting Food & Beverage Expense

0All food and beverage expenses for official Simmons College meetings require original receipts. Food and beverage expenses may not be recoverable from the Federal Government unless they are allowed by the specific award. To substantiate the business purpose of the meeting expenditures, departments are required to provide the following:

  • The purpose of the meeting or topic of discussion
  • A list of attendees (names and group association) present at the meeting
  • Itemized receipts
  • Alcoholic beverages must be segregated and charged to an appropriate non-federal, departmental account where applicable.

Meals for employees only are generally not allowable unless it is the only possible or practical time for such a group to gather due to schedules. Employee only meals may also be appropriate when employees are required by supervisors to work well beyond their normal work schedules. These expenses are at the discretion of the Vice President, Provost or Dean and require prior approval.

Employee Recognition and Morale

Reasonable expenses incurred for employee recognition and morale activities may be reimbursed. College funds for flowers or other suitable remembrances are permissible in the event of death or serious illness. Use of departmental funds for gifts for farewell and retirement parties should depend on length of service and contribution to Simmons College, and normally should supplement personal contributions. In no instances may such expenses be allocated to any contract, grant, or state funding source. These expenses are at the discretion of the Vice Presidents, Provost or Deans and require prior approval.

Travel and Business Hospitality Expense Reimbursements

Within 20 business days of the conclusion of each trip, all travel expenses under $5,000 with supporting documentation, are to be submitted to the Accounting Office on a properly completed and approved Travel Expense Report. Over $5,000 requires additional approvals.

If the report is properly submitted and if funds are owed to the traveler, a reimbursement check will be issued within 10 business days of receipt in the Accounting Office. Incomplete or improperly prepared expense reports will be returned to the traveler and will result in payment delay.

Reimbursements for $100 or less may be received in cash using the online Travel Expense Report and submitting it directly to the Cashier's Window.

All expenses (hotels, meals, car rentals, etc.) must be documented with original itemized receipts. Occasionally, when receipts are not obtainable (i.e. cab fare, tolls, etc), reimbursement will be made up to $15 per occurrence when identified and itemized on the expense report. Credit card slips are not acceptable substitutes for airline boarding passes and hotel bills.

If a College credit card is used, attach air, hotel, car and meal receipts to the credit card statement. This statement must be approved by your supervisor and kept on file until submitted to the Card Administrator.

Companion and Combined Personal Trips

Expenses incurred by a companion, spouse or other family member accompanying the traveler will be the responsibility of the traveler and must be noted on the Travel Requisition Form.

Business trips that also include travel for personal reasons will be reimbursed only for the expenses incurred for business purposes. Expenses charged to the College must be no greater than those which would have been incurred had the travel been solely for business purposes.

Direct Billing

With the exception of certain local hotels and transportation arranged through College agencies, no expenses are to be billed directly to the College.

Substitution of Expenses

Reimbursement will not be made for any expenditure, which is in lieu of the normally reimbursable type of expense, e.g. when an employee elects to stay at a relative's or friend's home instead of commercial lodging.

Local Hotel Accommodations

The College has special corporate rates and direct billing arrangements with a few local hotels. A list of the hotels is available in the Procurement Office. Please reference Simmons College or MASCO when making reservations.

Payment will be the responsibility of the individual. In the case of invited guests to the College, please note that each hotel has different reservation requirements. It is the responsibility of the department to cancel reservations when required.

Reimbursable Miscellaneous Expenses

Reasonable and necessary telephone calls:

  • Business: including those necessary to conduct business, obtain transportation and hotel reservations
  • Personal: to stay in reasonable contact with travelers' family.

Services including:

  • Expenses associated with baggage handling and storage, including excess baggage charges and tips Business office expenses
  • Necessary laundry expenses (requires 7-day travel)
  • Currency conversion fees
  • Vaccinations required for foreign travel
  • Visa/passport/consulate fees
  • Finance charges on foreign transactions

Unreimbursable Miscellaneous Expenses

  • Costs incurred by unreasonable failures to cancel transportation or hotel reservations
  • Fines for automobile violations
  • Personal auto repairs, insurance deductibles, and surcharges
  • Travel accident insurance premiums
  • Expenses not directly related to the performance of the travel assignment
  • Hotel movie rentals/airline headsets
  • Frequent flyer tickets
  • Toiletry items
  • Dependent care
  • Medical expenses
  • Health club fees
  • Air phone calls (except in the case of an emergency)
  • Magazine, newspapers and books
  • Additionally purchased car rental insurance for domestic travel
  • Travel Insurance
  • Accidental Death and Dismemberment

Simmons College provides accidental death and dismemberment coverage for all full-time employees. There are the usual exceptions such as suicide, illness or loss caused by an act of war. For further information, please refer to your Group Life Insurance Certificate.

Business Travel Insurance

The College has established an agreement with the College credit card provider, in conjunction with the contracted travel agencies, that when travel on any common carrier is booked, employees traveling on College business have additional coverage. More information is provided in the Guide to Benefits Package when you receive your College credit card.

Personal Property

The College maintains no insurance for loss or damage to personal property during official travel. Travelers should seek reimbursement through their own insurance company or directly from the responsible party.

Personal Automobiles

If a Simmons employee on official College business is involved in an accident resulting in damage to vehicles or personal property of others and/or injury to others, the College's auto liability insurance will cover the employee in excess of his/her personal insurance. This coverage will not cover damage to your own vehicle or your person. Please immediately notify the Office of the Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration. Insurance forms must be submitted within 24 hours to the carrier.

Rented Automobiles

All vehicles that are rented for business purposes and/or reimbursed by the College must be rented in the name of Simmons College. Automobile rental companies usually offer renters the option of purchasing collision damage waiver (CDW) or personal accident insurance (PAI) for an additional daily cost. In general, the College's vehicle insurance policy provides coverage in all 50 states for business use rental, so additional insurance should be declined. Individuals must not elect these options and the College will not reimburse the traveler for these costs.

When traveling internationally, it is required that insurance be purchased as insurance laws vary from country to country. In the event that a traveler is liable for injury or damage of third parties from use of said vehicle on behalf of the College, the College's insurance will cover the employee, as long as the rental period is less than 60 days.

When College credit card holders charge their rental car to the commercial account, they receive additional coverage that reimburses cardholders (the College) for the repair or replacement of a damaged or stolen rental car. All claims must be reported immediately to the College credit card company following the loss, but in no event later than 20 days. More information is provided in the Guide to Benefits Package when you receive your College credit card.

The Office of the Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration must also be notified if an accident occurs, whether domestically or internationally and a copy of the report should be submitted immediately.

New Policy for Memberships, Dues and Subscriptions-Non Library

The College may, with annual organizational unit approval, pay for membership dues to external professional organizations, certification and licensing fees, and subscriptions to professional journals or newspapers if they are required by the individual's position and duties, or if the membership, credential or subscription benefits the College's goals and mission. All faculty and staff should be prepared to provide cost/benefit detail on any membership, dues or subscription requests, particularly on first time requests.

Except for the instances described above, the College will not pay the membership dues or subscription of an individual.  Memberships necessary to maintain or enhance an individual's professional status are considered the responsibility of the individual and considered a personal expense.

Membership dues that are a part of the expense of registration for an organizational meeting for which the College pays the expense of an employee to attend will be considered membership dues and are subject to the approval process.

Institutional or individual memberships in professional organizations paid by College funds are subject to the following requirements and limitations. Memberships over $5,000 require the approval of the Sr. VP for Finance and Administration, consistent with all other expenses over $5000. Memberships over $15,000 will require both the President's Council member approval, the Sr. VP for Finance and Administration' approval and the Provost's Approval.

Institutional memberships may be acceptable business expenses with the approval, as appropriate, of the Vice President, Provost or Dean within a specific College/School. Such memberships are justified only if they clearly relate to the professional or civic responsibilities of the College or the professional responsibilities of an individual School, and should be reviewed annually by the responsible PC member, prior to renewal.

Individual memberships in social clubs and organizations may be paid, with approval, as appropriate, by a Vice President, Provost or Dean within a specific College/School. Such memberships normally are restricted to one per individual, and are justified only as they are considered to be important to the conduct of College business. All personal expenses associated with such membership must be identified and reimbursed to the College. Memberships will be permitted only in clubs and organizations whose policies are consistent with the College's EO/AA policies.

Memberships or dues to private clubs are considered taxable income by IRS rules. To be eligible for reimbursement by the College, prior approval by the appropriate Vice President, Provost or Dean is required. The expense must be paid directly by the individual and can only be reimbursed through payroll.

Any request for memberships, dues and subscriptions to be applied against sponsored research funds must be approved in advance by the grant accountants within the Simmons Finance Office.

Contact

Kim O'Neil
Senior Budget Analyst
Office L-334D
617.521.3816
kimberly.oneil@simmons.edu

Roslyn Taylor
Senior Budget Analyst
Office L-334E
617.521.2089
roslyn.taylor@simmons.edu

Diane Hallisey
Interim Director of Budgeting, Financial Planning and Reporting
Office L-334F
617.521.2872
diane.hallisey@simmons.edu

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