Staff expenses travel and working overseas policy
Updated on 13 August 2019
In order to best promote the University and attract applicants from diverse backgrounds, staff members are often required to travel throughout the United Kingdom and overseas, and this policy seeks to clarify procedures for staff whilst ensuring that all arrangements are managed in a manner which:
- safeguards the welfare and safety of our staff travelling on University business
- represents the best value for the use of University funds
- supports the achievement of operational targets, and those defined by the University Executive Group (UEG)
- where possible support the achievement of the University's sustainability targets
This policy applies to all staff (including those on temporary contracts), students and other external claimants (including external examiners) at the University of Dundee. This policy supersedes all previous documents relating to travel and travel-related expenditure and applies to all travel and expenses incurred on University business.
Application of this policy
This policy applies irrespective whether the source of funding is from the University's core activities or from funding provided by third parties, including research funding.
This policy should be read in conjunction with all relevant internal policies and procedures including the University's finance, health and safety and sustainability procedures, as well as appropriate legislation and good practice procedures and guidelines.
Two policies of particular relevance are:
The following key principles are embedded in the application of this policy:
The University will only reimburse the actual cost of expenses wholly, exclusively and necessarily incurred by staff in the performance of the duties of their employment.
Staff must endeavour to achieve value for money without impairing the efficiency of the University. They must also ensure that effective management and financial controls are in place, and that expenditure incurred is reasonable and within budget.
Every member of staff is personally responsible for the submission of their own expense claims in line with the policies of the University.
Expenses claims should be submitted no later than three months of the date of return to the University.
There must be no local customisation of the policy to create separate School or Directorate arrangements. The policy applies equally to all parts of the University and all of its staff.
All staff travel journeys and expense claims must comply with this policy unless fully reimbursed by an external funder, where the funder's policy allows staff to claim for a higher level of travel/subsistence in carrying out the project/business requirement. For the avoidance of doubt, Research Council funding normally requires staff to adhere to the University's policy.
Expense claims can only be used to claim reasonable travel expenses, subsistence and other relevant costs as outlined in this policy. Expenses claims must be used to reimburse incidental personal expenditure (personal costs incurred whilst on University business) not general business expenditure. Potentially hazardous materials and equipment must never be purchased by individuals and claimed on expenses. Staff must book train tickets, hotel accommodation, and flights through the University's approved travel provider (currently Key Travel) where possible.
Expense claims must not include the purchase of equipment, goods or services, which must be made through the University's procurement procedures.
This policy was approved by the Finance & Policy Committee on 5 February 2019 and by the Court on 26 February 2019 and is effective from 26 February 2019.
The policy will be reviewed on an annual basis to ensure that it remains aligned with University strategic priorities and the relevant external requirements such as those of HMRC.
Failure to comply
Any staff member who fails to comply with this policy may be subject to disciplinary action under the University’s Disciplinary Procedures and potentially to criminal proceedings in cases of fraud or theft.
Welfare and safety
Duty of care
The University owes a duty of care to its staff for all the activities they carry out in the execution of their duties, including those conducted out-with their normal workplace, or overseas, as defined by the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Staff and their respective line managers will strive at all times to minimise, and where appropriate manage risk, to ensure the health, safety and security of staff travelling on University business.
A risk assessment must be completed by the traveller for all overseas travel and a decision taken on whether the work and travel is low, medium or high risk.
If the risk has been assessed as a low risk then fulfilling the requirements of a generic working overseas risk assessment is sufficient. Frequent repeated travel to the same area to undertake the same low-risk activities may simply require a review of an existing risk assessment and confirmation that the risk remains unchanged.
If working overseas for longer periods or for higher risk work then a more detailed and specific risk assessment is required. The risk assessment form will be discussed and completed pre-departure with the line manager or senior manager. Guidance is available at:
Foreign travel against the advice of Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Travel to countries or regions where the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises against all travel will not be authorised. Where the advice is against all but essential travel, the University (in this case the University Executive Group) would need to consider the risk involved versus the merits of the visit.
Fitness to travel
Staff should ensure they are fit and healthy to meet the requirements of their period of travel and are required to:
- contact a medical practice if they are travelling outside of the UK for appropriate advice and any requisite immunisations; the University will meet the cost of any immunisations required for business travel
- contact the University’s Occupational Health Department if they have any concerns about their health or fitness for travel
Duration of travel
In the interests of staff efficiency and health, overseas travel for business should not normally exceed three weeks in duration.
Keeping in touch
An agreed reporting system must be in place between the member of staff travelling and an identified contact person at the University during periods of travel (e.g. line manager or an appropriate administrator/PA). Contact must be made with the nominated person on arrival, before departure, and as frequently as agreed over the period. The nominated person must alert senior colleagues if they have any concerns or if the contact has not been made as arranged, so that appropriate action can be taken.
An Emergency contact form (University login required) must be completed before the trip. For staff travelling frequently, it is not necessary for a new form to be completed for every trip. However, the member of staff should review this on a regular basis to ensure that it remains up to date. If an accident, injury or emergency situation occurs, staff must contact their line manager or nominated person as soon as possible, who in turn can offer advice, guidance and support and/or notify family, friends or colleagues as is appropriate. A University accident form (University login required) will then need to be completed on return to the office.
Illness whilst travelling on University business
If a member of staff is unwell and unable to work as planned, the line manager or nominated person should be advised as soon as possible so that the sickness absence is recorded appropriately and support and advice (i.e. from Occupational Health) can be provided where required.
A travel checklist is available for staff to assist with the preparation of the visit overseas and to ensure the necessary travel, health and insurance arrangements are in place in time, pre-departure.
Travel by rail
Staff travelling on University business must obtain authorisation to travel from the budget holder in advance of making any bookings or taking a journey.
Approved travel provider
All rail travel must be arranged through the approved University travel provider (currently Key Travel). Rail travel should only be claimed on expenses in an emergency situation where it was not possible to book ahead.
Staff should ensure bookings are made as early as possible in order to benefit from the best price available. Staff should normally travel standard class. First-class travel may be used only under the following circumstances:
- First-class is available at a standard class fare on the same journey.
- A member of staff has a specific medical condition that requires different travel requirements and this has been recommended by the University’s Occupational Health Department.
- Other exceptional circumstances authorised in advance by the Director of Finance.
Where staff are required to take a sleeper service in the execution of their duties they should upgrade to sole occupancy of the cabin.
Travel by air
Authorisation to travel
Staff travelling on University business (within the UK and overseas) must obtain authorisation to travel from the budget holder in advance of making any bookings or taking a journey.
Approved travel provider
All air travel must be arranged through the approved University travel provider (currently Key Travel). Bookings should be made as early as possible in order to benefit from the best price available and to ensure that value for money is achieved. Air travel should only be claimed on expenses in an emergency situation where it was not possible to book ahead.
Staff should travel economy class, with premium economy or economy plus (or equivalent) classes only available under the following circumstances:
- A premium economy or equivalent class of seat is available at an economy class fare.
- A flight is over five hours in duration.
- If a member of staff has a specific medical condition that requires different flight travel and this has been recommended by the University’s Occupational Health Department
- Other exceptional circumstances authorised in advance by the Director of Finance.
- Business-class tickets require authorization from the Director of Finance, which will only be given in exceptional circumstances. First-class air travel will not be approved.
All staff must ensure they are in possession of a current passport, health insurance policy note and all necessary documentation / visas to enter the destination country and re-enter the UK, if applicable, prior to flying. Staff are responsible for ensuring the validity of their travel documentation.
Passport costs will not normally be reimbursed but travel visa costs may be claimed. Where staff are required to travel overseas regularly to fulfil their work obligations, the University will, however, meet the costs associated with the issue/renewal of passports and if required, will purchase a second passport for each staff member required to travel outside of the UK regularly (more than 4 trips a year). Any purchase would have to be approved by the line manager or equivalent budget holder.
Frequent flyer programmes
Staff may collect frequent flyer miles on business trips. However, they can not specify a particular carrier in order to gain Air Miles or other loyalty points. Participation in these programmes must not result in any incremental cost to the University and the University will not be responsible for any tax liability, which may result from the use of these benefits.
For staff who are required to spend a significant amount of time overseas (3-4 months) and undertake multiple trips, the University may approve for business use the purchase of one piece of luggage (i.e. suitcase) up to a maximum value of £200. This would only be when considered an essential item to undertake the duties associated with the post and would normally only be applicable to External Relations staff. Any purchase would have to be approved by the line manager or equivalent budget holder. Should this item be damaged during business travel it can be replaced.
Staff should follow airline guidance in terms of standard baggage allowance on all flights. Where staff require additional baggage allowance due to the necessity of taking items for business reasons, staff should advise the University’s travel provider at the time of booking. If excess or additional luggage charge is applied due to personal items the staff member will be liable in full for the excess baggage charge.
Use of airport lounges
Staff may only pay to access airport lounges where a stopover or delay results in the period of time spent in an airport exceeding three hours. Receipts must be submitted for reimbursement.
Travel by vehicle
Use of public transport
For travel in the UK, where practicable, public transport should be used where this provides the best value for money.
Where public transport is not practicable, travel can be by privately owned car, University pool car, self-drive car hire or taxi. Justification must be included on the claim.
Driver declaration form
The University is responsible for ensuring that at all times it has adequate risk controls in place across all aspects of its business. The University has a process in place to ensure it can manage and monitor that all staff are driving legally and are adequately insured.
To capture this information all staff wishing to seek approval to drive University-owned, hired,
leased or personal vehicles are required to complete the online Driver Declaration Form. All drivers are required to renew their declaration annually.
If there is any material change to a person’s driving licence validity or their insurance cover then they should cease to drive on University business and re-submit the online driver’s declaration form.
Overseas car hire
For all car hire whilst overseas staff must book comprehensive insurance including personal liability with the car hire provider as the University’s Vehicle Insurance Policy applies only in the UK.
Reasonable expenses incurred on parking, tolls, congestion charges etc. may be claimed. Receipts or other documentary evidence should be attached to the claim form.
Fines and penalties
The University will not meet any costs or responsibility associated with fines or penalties.
Privately owned vehicles
Where travel is by privately owned vehicle, the University will reimburse for business mileage in accordance with the standard rates published on the websiteOnly mileage relating to University business journeys can be reclaimed through expenses. Where business mileage is being claimed the start point, destination and number of miles must be included on the expenses claim. A receipt is not required for a mileage claim.
The University will not accept claims of any type, for home to work travel.
Where the business related journey does not start from the normal place of work, then the mileage to be claimed is the lesser of the journey undertaken or that from the normal place of work to the destination. For personal vehicles, staff must record their cumulative business mileage (within each financial year) on their claim forms to ensure that business mileage incurred is reimbursed at the correct rate.
Use of personal vehicles
Staff who wish approval to drive their personal vehicles for the purposes of University business are responsible for the vehicle at all times and must:
- ensure their vehicle is legally roadworthy and maintained in line with the manufacturer’s guidelines and has a current MOT
- be insured to drive a personal vehicle for business purposes; any associated cost is the responsibility of the vehicle owner
The University does not accept responsibility for costs associated with making the vehicle roadworthy or for the costs associated with insuring a personal vehicle.
University pool car
The University has a number of vehicles which are available for staff to use on University business provided they have completed the Drivers Declaration form.
Those wishing to use a University vehicle should contact the Estates Department.
Staff will only be reimbursed for any fuel they have purchased whilst using the vehicle. Fuel receipts must be submitted with expense claim. The mileage rates referred to above are not applicable.
Self-drive hire car
For road journeys, staff should consider using a hire car rather than their own private vehicle as this could be the most cost-effective option to the University. (Details on how to book vehicle hire can be obtained from Procurement team). In such instances, the relative costs must be assessed and the best value for money option selected.
Class of hire car
The class of hire car depends on the number of people travelling and the period of hire.
|Days of hire|
|One||Two to five||Five+|
Nominated vehicle hire firm
The University’s nominated vehicle hire firm (currently Arnold Clark) must be used for all UK vehicle hire. Vehicles can be booked directly (contact Procurement team for contact details) or via the University's appointed Travel Partner. Concessionary hire rates have been obtained and motor insurance is covered under the University’s insurance policy.
Staff who hire a car may reclaim the cost of fuel. The expenses claim for fuel must be accompanied with VAT receipts. The mileage rates referred to above are not applicable.
Damage to hire vehicle
If there is any damage sustained to a vehicle on University business within the UK, full details of damage must be reported to firstname.lastname@example.org who will liaise with the University`s insurers.
Travel by taxi
In pursuit of the University’s sustainability targets, before planning travel by motor vehicle, consideration must be given to public transport alternatives. However, staff at various times may be required to utilise taxis during the execution of their duties.
Taxi journeys within Dundee
For taxi journeys within Dundee where a bus is not practicable, the University has appointed an approved taxi provider who can be used for internal journeys within Dundee and airport pick-up and drop-off journeys. (Tele Taxis can be contacted on 01382 825825).
Use of taxis overseas
In certain locations and countries, the use of taxis may be the only safe or convenient form of transport. Only licensed taxis should be used, as advised by local contacts. All staff should obtain receipts for every journey. The receipts should show the destination and departure point, date and time of travel.
UK and overseas hotel accommodation
All hotel accommodation must be booked, and pre-paid, through the University’s approved travel provider (currently Key Travel). Exceptionally, where there are ‘bundle’ packages available, e.g. for recruitment fairs, conference packages, accommodation arranged by overseas partners, etc, such arrangements will be allowed. Hotel accommodation should only be claimed on expenses in an emergency situation where it was not possible to book ahead.
Hotels or accommodation must be safe, and represent good value for money. If staff select hotels or accommodation providers with whom they wish to collect loyalty points the costs must comply with those set out in Section 10.2.6 and must not result in any incremental cost being borne by the University.
Where possible for higher risk overseas travel, advice should be sought from the British Council, agents or other trusted representative on which hotel to stay in. If a hotel is likely to exceed the recommended rates then prior authorisation must be obtained from the staff member’s line manager or equivalent budget holder.
Reimbursement for all other charges incurred are subject to normal finance procedures.
Internet and WIFI charges will be reimbursed where access is required for business purposes.
Pay for view TV will not be reimbursed.
Room snacks and mini bar purchases will not be reimbursed unless part of the daily subsistence allowance (soft drinks only).
Discretionary payments/tips to service staff will only be reimbursed where they are logged and added to receipts submitted following return from a business trip subject to the University expenses policy.
The agreed maximum rates (inclusive of VAT and/or other local taxes) for accommodation bookings are as follows:
|Rate per night|
|London (within the M25)||£180 bed and breakfast|
|Rest of United Kingdom||£130 bed and breakfast|
|Rate per night|
|Capital city||£180 bed and breakfast|
|Outside capital city||£130 bed and breakfast|
In exceptional circumstances where a higher rate is paid, staff should retain evidence that there were not valid cheaper alternatives.
Staff may choose to stay with family or friends whilst on business in the UK or overseas. As the saving is of benefit to the University, it is appropriate for the staff member to purchase a meal up to the value of £25 per night in lieu of the hospitality provided. A receipt for the meal purchased is required for reimbursement.
Where there is an overnight stay staff members are entitled to claim reasonable expenses for personal subsistence:
- In the UK a maximum daily allowance of £40 per person per day to cover all meals and refreshments.
- In Europe and overseas a maximum daily allowance of £50 per person per day to cover all meals and refreshments.
These amounts are not round sum allowances. Receipts must be submitted for reimbursement. If subsistence is likely to exceed the authorised rates then permission must be obtained from the member of staff’s line manager or equivalent budget holder and in advance where possible.
Use of University purchase cards
Where staff have a University Purchase card, this should be used for all purchases in the first instance, adhering to University policy and procurement guidelines as to their appropriate use at all times, including in the submission of receipts following a trip.
An advance of up to a maximum of 50 % of the allowed subsistence rate for the trip can be requested. Advances are paid direct into the employee’s bank account and are only payable in GBP. Any requests should be made not less than 2 weeks prior to a trip.
See Finance Directorate.
Purchase of alcohol
The University will not support through financial reimbursement the consumption of alcohol. All such expenditure is deemed to be personal in nature and cannot be reclaimed from University funds or included in a subsistence claim. This includes alcohol purchased in restaurants, bars and shops.
It is important in this context to note the distinction between subsistence and hospitality. Subsistence relates to personal business travel. Hospitality is where University colleagues, for genuine business reasons, are required to entertain customers, suppliers or other third parties in the course of performing their duties. The Policy relating to Hospitality and Entertaining is covered in Section 12.
Hospitality, gifts & entertaining
Hospitality is defined in the University’s Financial Regulations as:
“Any food, drink, accommodation or entertainment which has been provided either without charge or at a heavily discounted rate.”
Gifts are defined in the University`s Financial Regulations as:
“any item or service given or received for which no payment has been made in return or where the item or service has been accepted or provided at a level clearly below an appropriate market value.”
Gifts and Hospitality Policy
For further guidance on what is/not permissible, read the University's ‘Gifts and Hospitality' Policy
Acceptable entertainment is deemed as:
- expenditure incurred from occasions arising to discuss a particular business project with external people not directly connected to the University
- expenditure incurred where the purpose is to maintain an existing business connection or to form a new one with external people not directly connected to the University
Claiming business entertainment expenses
When more than one employee is present, the most senior employee should submit an expenses claim for the event on behalf of the whole group.
Prior to the entertainment being offered, the relevant Dean or Director must agree in advance if the amount in total is over £200 or £50 a head. All costs incurred must be reasonable and consistent with the basis for the entertainment being offered.
- A ratio of no more than 4 employees to 1 guest is acceptable.
- All entertainment must be supported with written evidence of payment. Receipts must be presented with all claims and all costs relating to the entertainment such as taxis, etc. must be coded on the expense form as entertainment.
- The names of all attendees, and the names of their employers, must be presented with the expenses claim.
- Alcohol is only permitted when entertaining external guests with a defined business outcome.
- The drinks bill should reflect reasonable consumption given it is a business meeting.
The University reserves the right to reject or restrict claims regarded by it as being unreasonable.
Telephone use and frequent travel
Frequently travelling staff may be provided with a mobile telephone for business use, whether in the UK or overseas. In order to benefit from the best rates available, staff travelling overseas must arrange through UoD IT, for an appropriate call and data package to be added to their handset in advance of travelling overseas. This package should not exceed one month.
University mobile phones
Staff with a University mobile phone are permitted to use their phone to make one personal call on arrival at their destination and one further call. The duration of these calls should be kept to a minimum. Where possible staff are encouraged to use free, web-based communication tools, such as FaceTime and Skype for personal communications.
Privately owned mobile phones
Business calls on privately owned mobile/smartphones are claimable, but not any part or proportion of the ‘phone rental cost. Call details must be documented and submitted with expense claims. Phone cards and top ups are not reimbursed by the University.
Payments to academic staff for overseas work
The University has agreed that academic staff engaged in overseas activity which is identified to align with specific strategic objectives and priorities (and they have not been recruited specifically to undertake this activity) will be recompensed for this work. This will include ADIs and Academic Regional Leads.
Per diem payments
In accordance with this, a per diem payment will be paid to academics (other than University Executive Group and Deans) undertaking:
- overseas teaching
- approved overseas Open Recruitment activity; activity will be approved by the Dean of School
- approved Educational Partnership activity; activity will be approved by the Dean of School
The policy of paying per diem payments to academic staff will be reviewed by University Executive Group (UEG) on an annual basis to ensure that the policy remains aligned with University strategic priorities.
Per diem rates for 2018/19:
- £100 per diem (working day) for all overseas teaching.
- £100 per diem (working day) for new teaching contracts/projects.
For approved Open Recruitment and Educational Partnership activities
- £100 per diem (working day) for activity agreed by Dean of School.
A ‘working day’ can include weekends and travel time if this is spent working on recruitment activities overseas.
Existing arrangements will be maintained for Dasman and Cairo activity and reviewed by the Schools and UEG at point of contract renewal.
New staff who are recruited specifically to work on overseas projects and whose contracts reflect overseas activity and travel as an essential requirement for the role, will not be eligible for per diem rates.
Per diem payments do not apply for overseas conferences and research or other personal development type activity and there are no payments for broader partnership or business development activity.
Staff will qualify for daily subsistence rates, subject to the submission of the appropriate receipts, in addition to per diem rates.
Payments to professional services staff for overseas work
Professional Services staff who are recruited specifically to work on overseas projects and whose contracts reflect overseas activity and travel as an essential requirement for the role, will not be eligible for per diem rates.
Professional Services staff who are required to travel overseas to support the activities of Academic Staff as detailed above, and for whom overseas travel is an additional activity, will be eligible for per diem rates. This will include School Managers and School Operational Managers.
Directors will not be eligible for per diem rates.
The University will however maintain any arrangements currently in place for any Professional Services staff who have been involved in work supporting current academic activities overseas and who have been covered by the existing arrangements and payments in place. These arrangements will be subject to review as detailed in 'Payments to academic staff for overseas work'.
Rest days, time off in lieu and annual leave
Staff may, with the approval of their line manager, take a “rest day” when arriving via economy class in-country depending on the length of their journey, time zone changes, and time of arrival to ensure duty of care.
It is recognised that staff will often be required to work during weekends and evenings during the execution of their duties on business trips, and whilst overseas are not at leisure. The contractual position for staff Grade 7 and above is that ‘Time Off in lieu’ (TOIL) does not apply and the hours of work are ‘the hours required to fulfil the duties of the post’.
- In certain circumstances, however, TOIL may be approved for professional services staff when on business trips overseas:
- A weekend or part of a weekend is worked during the trip. TOIL will accrue for the additional hours worked
- A part-time member of staff works full-time hours during a trip. In these circumstances, the member of staff will accrue TOIL or if agreed, payment for the additional hours worked.
- If one day TOIL is accrued this will often be taken as a ‘rest day’ on return from a trip; if additional TOIL is accrued this will normally be taken within one month of returning to the University. Exceptions to this can only be made at the discretion of the staff’s line manager.
Academic staff and overseas teaching
For academic staff, it is recognised that overseas teaching may be conducted in a highly concentrated way and a significant portion of an annual teaching load can potentially be completed in a more compressed time frame. Recompense for the inconvenience associated with overseas teaching is in the form of the agreed per diem rate and TOIL will not apply. For any professional services staff who currently receive a per diem rate (due to the circumstance stated in 15.2), the same principles will apply and TOIL will not apply.
Annual leave whilst overseas
Staff are permitted to take annual leave whilst overseas subject to the approval of their line manager, provided the University does not incur additional expense in their doing so. Staff shall be wholly liable for meeting any additional costs incurred due to annual leave taken whilst overseas and should note that they must arrange alternative personal insurance cover for the period of annual leave within the trip.
Joint travel arrangements
Joint travel arrangements with a spouse, partner, or child may be made through the University’s travel partner but only the cost relating to the employee’s travel for business purposes will be paid by University. Any private element needs to be negotiated and settled directly in advance with the University`s travel partner, Key Travel.
University travel insurance policy
The University's travel insurance policy extends to all business trips in the UK on a blanket basis.
Arranging travel insurance
Before any overseas trip travel insurance must be arranged by emailing email@example.com.
Travel insurance paperwork
Travel insurance paperwork will be emailed to the staff member who placed the request. This will include a policy number, an emergency 24-hour helpline contact number and a summary of cover provided under the University’s travel insurance policy.
In some situations further information will be required about pre-existing medical conditions. No insurance cover can be provided for travel against medical advice.
Hospital costs incurred will be covered directly by the insurer (by phoning the Emergency Contact Number and quoting the policy number). Should staff incur other costs (e.g. prescriptions) receipts should be kept and submitted to the Finance Office.
University insurance provider
The University’s current insurance provider is:
AIG Europe Limited
2-8 Altyre Road Croydon
Surrey CR9 2LG
Policy Number: 0010603000
Emergency Insurance Contact Number: +44 (0)1273 552 922
The policy requires any staff member with a pre-existing medical condition to obtain a doctor’s letter confirming that they are either fit/not fit to travel.
Loss of personal effects
Any losses must be reported immediately to appropriate authorities. Staff should obtain documentary evidence wherever possible to assist with any insurance claim. Staff on return to the UK, must report any losses to the Finance office. Loss of personal effects is not a valid business expense but may be reimbursed via the insurance claim process provided satisfactory evidence of loss is obtained.