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Controls for Timely Submission of Employee Expense Reports

Timely submission of expense reports by employees can help improve the quality and efficiency of the overall Travel & Expense process.  The longer an employee waits, the more likely there are errors or omissions, or lost receipts that require special handling for approval.  Given that frequent travelers are most likely either senior-level company employees or employees that are directly involved in generating sales revenue for the company, creating and enforcing strong controls for this part of the process can be problematic, with limited leverage in Shared Services to drive policy changes.

When questions like this come up, it can be helpful to have clear insight into the policies of peers.  Fortunately for members of Peeriosity, it is easy to get objective and unbiased feedback from peers who are interested in sharing their views and helping a colleague, with the option for participants to see the identity of others, and with the ability to easily contact peers using Peer MailTM, an e-mail tool that is integrated into the Peeriosity solution.

Recently, Peeriosity’s iPollingTM was used to examine the requirement for timeliness of expense reporting by asking two important questions.  First, information on the timeframe between when an expense is incurred and when an employee is required to submit an expense report, and second, when, if ever, does an employee risk not being reimbursed for expenses, if the expenses are not claimed within a certain timeframe.  Responses were posted in real-time, with visibility to company responses available to all Peeriosity members, allowing for direct communication with peers using Peeriosity’s integrated Peer MailTM capabilities.

For the first poll question asking about the length of time permitted before an employee is required to submit an expense report, 5% indicated within 5 days, with the most popular response, within 15 days, being selected by 38% of responding member companies.  Within 30 days was next most popular, at 30%, with 21% making selections of 45 days or longer

Here are the details:

iPolling: timeframe at your company from that point that an expense is incurred | Timely Submission of Employee Expense Reports

Timely submission of an expense report is certainly a good idea, but how many companies consider not reimbursing an employee for expenses that are not claimed within a specified time frame?  While 48% of responding companies indicate they will always reimburse regardless of the timeframe, a reasonably large percentage, at 33%, will not reimburse if the expenses are over 90 days old.  Here are the details:

iPolling: do your employees risk not being reimbursed for T&E expense | Timely Submission of Employee Expense Reports

Unlike traditional benchmarking, Peeriosity’s iPollingTM capabilities allow members to very quickly examine this issue in detail, providing a range of experiences and viewpoints that can be reviewed to develop an appropriate and workable answer.  Tapping into the experience of peers eliminates guesswork and allows members to quickly access the collective experiences of a large community of users who are facing the same challenges.

Here are a few of the comments from responding companies:

  • Excerpt from our Corporate Card Agreement Form: “All expenses should be submitted to the employee’s manager using the country level expense reporting process within 45 days from the expense date. Expenses not submitted within 90 days of the posting date may not be reimbursed and your corporate card may be suspended at the company’s sole discretion.”
  • We require a higher level of approval for expenses over six months, but we sometimes get older ones.  All are paid.
  • Six months is the latest we will reimburse an expense.
  • The time frame we set is 60 days for both submissions AND to be reimbursed.
  • Our company requirement is for employees to have their expense reports completed no later than the shorter of 7 days from the date of the expense, or 5 days from completion of travel.
  • Our travel policy states that expenses over one year old will not be reimbursed.
  • We support a worldwide process and in many countries (like Germany) putting a time limit on reimbursement would be illegal.
  • Expenses submitted over 90 days old require a thorough written explanation for the late submission and a Senior Finance Executive is required to review the expense and provide approval for the reimbursement.

What are the requirements at your company for the timely submission of employee expense reports?  At what point, if ever, does an employee risk not having their expenses reimbursed?

Who are your peers and how are you collaborating with them?


 “iPollingTM” is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from participating or accessing content. Members have full visibility of all respondents and their comments. Using Peeriosity’s integrated e-mail system, Peer MailTM, members can easily communicate at any time with others who participate in iPolling.

Peeriosity members are invited to log into to join the discussion and connect with Peers.   Membership is for practitioners only, with no consultants or vendors permitted.  To learn more about Peeriosity, click here.

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