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Travel and expenses policy

Last reviewed on 18 September 2018

Here at Co-op we know that you might need to travel or incur other expenses for business reasons. If you do, please spend Co-op’s money wisely and only when absolutely necessary.

Crucial bits

This policy applies to all colleagues and any contractors or temporary agency workers working for Co-op. There’s more information for contractors in the 'Contractor Payment Principles' - find these on the intranet.

Claiming expenses

You need to claim your expenses through the online employee expense claim system within four weeks of the date of the expense. If you work in Insurance, use the expenses system on the intranet.

You’ll need to include a matching VAT receipt with your claim. Your manager will then review your claim and if they’re happy, approve it for payment before a final check by the expenses team. If you don’t have access to the online expenses system - for example, if you work in a food store, you should use the paper based expenses form on the intranet (ask your manager for a copy if you don’t have access to the intranet).

You should claim expenses against your team’s cost centre – so just check that this is set up correctly in the system. If you’re claiming expenses for work on a project that’s got its own cost centre, use that cost centre when making your claim.

It’s important that you claim under the right expense code in the system – so we’ve included these throughout the policy to help. Just so you’re aware, there’s a different expenses system in Co-op Insurance which sometimes has different expense codes.

If we think you’ve claimed for something that you shouldn’t have done, we’ll investigate and may need to deal with the matter under the Disciplinary/Misconduct Procedure.

Travel bookings

Only travel when you really need to. See if you could use an audio or video conference instead. If you don’t have video conferencing facilities, contact Clarity Travel Management (CTM). Use free video conferencing services such as Skype and Facetime where appropriate.

If you do need to book travel you must do this through CTM. We use CTM to help make booking travel easy for you, to give us access to preferential rates and most importantly to help us know where you’re traveling in case of any problems.

When booking trains, flights and hotels, make sure you use CTM’s online self-booking system and give a reason for your travel in the drop down menu. If you don’t already have access to the online system, email: cooponline@claritytm.co.uk or call the CTM online help team on 0333 014 6073.

Where possible, book travel at least 14 days in advance.

All bookings made through CTM will be charged to your cost centre and they’ll need approval from your manager before processing your booking.

Bookings not made through CTM will not be reimbursed.

If you’re arranging travel for 10 people or more to the same event, book this through the CTM events team. Email conference@claritybt.com or groups@claritybt.com. You can also call 0333 014 6074.

Trains, Trams, Tube and Buses

All rail tickets over £10 and London Underground one-day travel cards must be booked through CTM.

All train tickets must be standard class. CTM will book you a non-flexible ticket as standard, any exception to this will need to be approved in advance by your line manager.

All other train, tram, tube and bus tickets under £10 don’t need to be booked through CTM, they can be bought direct and reclaimed via expenses.

Flights

All flights need to be approved by a member of the group executive. If you need to fly internationally, journeys above seven hours may be booked in premium economy. Business class may be approved in exceptional circumstances.

Car travel

If you drive for business - whether in a Co-op, private or hired vehicle - you must complete the driver risk management process before you travel. If you haven’t then we won’t reimburse your mileage or fuel costs. See the Co-op driving policy on the intranet for more information.

Mileage

Just so it’s clear, you can’t claim mileage for your journey from home to your normal place of work, or vice versa. Your normal place of work can be an office, store/branch or a defined region. So, if you’re claiming mileage, you must deduct the mileage between your home and normal place of work before making a claim. If you’re unsure what your normal place of work is, speak to your manager - managers should contact their HRBP, who’ll seek advice from Group Tax.

You can claim mileage costs for the following;

If you drive a vehicle owned/hired by the Co-op or have a car cash allowance, you can claim mileage for the journeys you make for business, excluding your normal journey to work. You should claim this under the correct car type and engine capacity for the vehicle.

If you drive your own vehicle for business, you can claim mileage, again excluding your normal journey to work. You should claim this under car type “own vehicle (no cash allowance)”.

You can claim mileage from home to a “temporary workplace”. For it to be temporary, you need to be working there for less than 24 months, or for less than 40% of your working time.

You can claim for travel between workplaces - including travel between stores/branches but remember if you’re making a claim for your total journey to and from work, you must first deduct the mileage between home and your normal place of work.

If you’re home-based and have no defined area/region, or your region is all of the UK, you can claim mileage for all business journeys.

If you’re regionally-based and live inside the region you work in, you can claim mileage for all business journeys. But if you live outside your defined region, you can claim mileage for journeys within your region but not for journeys to and from your home to the boundary of your region.

The current mileage rates, including those for electric vehicles, can be found on the intranet. All mileage claims must be submitted with an appropriate VAT receipt.

If the Co-op changes your permanent normal place of work to one which is further away from your home, you may be able to claim for the additional travel expense under the Travel Allowance Policy.

Vehicle hire

If you need to hire a vehicle you should agree this with your manager. You should book vehicle hire through CTM. If you are a Manchester based colleague you should initially check if there are any pool vehicles available with Group Transport. Search for 'Manchester Pool Vehicles' on the intranet.

If you're not Manchester based then you will be advised to contact CTM on 0333 014 6071. If you’ve got an Essential User or Grade-Related car (or cash allowance) then you can’t hire a car other than in exceptional circumstances and with authorisation from a Grade C manager or above.

You should return vehicles in the same condition as they were delivered, and with a full fuel tank. You’ll be responsible for any fuel charges from the hire company. If you’re using a pool or hire car, then you can claim the cost of the fuel rather than mileage - under expense type “Car Hire/Pool Car Fuel”.

Parking fees, tolls and fines

You can claim for any reasonable parking fees and tolls you incur while travelling on business (under “Parking – On/Off street” / “Tolls/Ferry with/without VAT”) – but you can’t claim for parking at your normal work location.

Parking fees will be reimbursed up to a maximum of £20 per day, so make sure you record the dates you parked on the expenses system. If you can't park nearby for safety reasons and need to use a car park that exceeds this daily limit, then do so and claim the cost via expenses as an exception under “Other”.

If you’re flying then use long-stay airport parking wherever possible and book this in advance through CTM.

You can’t claim expenses for the cost of any parking/traffic offence fines or car wash/valet. If you get a parking or traffic fine which we have to pay, you’ll need to reimburse the Co-op for the cost of these fines, as well as any applicable admin fees.

Taxis

You should use public transport wherever possible, but you can travel by taxi if:

  • you’re carrying excessive or heavy luggage and using public transport would be physically difficult
  • your personal security or safety is a concern - for early morning or late night travel
  • you have a disability that restricts your ability to travel on public transport

Pre-booked taxis will be cheaper so book taxis in advance, where possible, rather than using a taxi rank. You can claim these under “Taxi with/without VAT”. You’ll need to itemise each taxi journey, put the start point of your journey and destination and provide a receipt for each journey.

Hotels

You’ll need to agree any hotel booking in advance with your manager, and book these through CTM's online booking system.

The earlier you book, the better your chance of getting your choice of hotel.

If you feel that none of the hotels offered within the Co-op rate are suitable due to safety concerns, please speak to your line manager who may be able to approve an alternative.

If you’re going to an event at a hotel where accommodation isn’t included, you can stay at the hotel if it’s the cheapest option overall, considering the cost of travel to and from the venue.

Working late
If you unexpectedly have to work very late, you can book a hotel if your normal travel home would be extremely difficult or unsafe. Bookings must be made through CTM’s online booking system and only if you are unable to access this you can call CTM on 0333 014 6071.

Apartments
If there’s two of you staying, then an apartment might be cheaper than two hotel rooms – ask CTM for more details.

Alternative Accommodation Allowance
If you’re working away from home and choose to stay overnight with friends or family, you can claim £25 per night towards your host’s costs. This should be claimed under “Overnight stay with friends of family” (Group)/”Alternative accommodation” (Insurance) - try to include a receipt from your host. You can claim this in addition to your meal costs – see below.

Food and drink or Entertaining

You can claim expenses for buying food while you’re travelling on business as follows – unless they’re provided by your host or as part of a hotel booking. The maximum amounts you can claim are below:

Breakfast
£7
Expense claim type: Breakfast

Lunch
Co-op doesn't reimburse the cost of lunches.

Dinner
£20 (not including any alcoholic drinks)
Expense claim type: Evening meal – cold take-away food / for visit to temporary workplace

In addition to the evening meal allowance, charges for room service can be claimed separately (if the room service charge takes the total claim to over £20) the additional charge (over £20) can be claimed through the expenses system under “other”, a receipt must be provided to show the charge.

In addition to the evening meal allowance you can claim for the cost of tips, up to the value of 12.5%. Remember that you must provide receipts for all expenses.

If you aren’t staying overnight on business, you can only claim for breakfast if you leave home more than 90 minutes earlier than usual and for dinner if you’re going to get home after 8pm. Speak to your manager if you’re not sure if you can claim.

If you stay overnight for business, you can claim reasonable expenses of up to £5 per night for things like tea/coffee, Wi-Fi or personal calls. These should be claimed under “Other” (Group)/ “Incidental Expenses” (Insurance).

Internal meetings

You can’t claim expenses for food or drink at internal meetings.

Training courses

Always try to use Co-op premises rather than external venues for training events – if you do need an external venue, you should book through CTM. If you attend a training course off-site, you can claim for tea/coffee and a working lunch under “Other” (Group)/”Incidentals” (Insurance) if these are not provided as part of the course.

Entertaining (external)

You can claim for providing meals/refreshments for external guests where these costs are reasonable and there’s a business reason for doing it. If you’re providing entertainment for external guests, you’ll need to make sure it’s appropriate under the Anti-Bribery Policy and record it in your local 'Gifts and Hospitality Register' - find this on the intranet.

You can claim this under “Entertainment: Customer/Staff mixed” (Group)/”Entertaining” (Insurance). You’ll need to give the names, job titles and companies of the people there and the reason for the entertainment.

Entertaining (internal)

If you’re a line manager, you can claim expenses for things like meals out for rewarding colleagues or team building-type events. The event must be reasonable and any meals claimed within the meal allowances in the table above.

You should pay for the meal/event and claim under “Staff – One off morale and team building/reward event”.

Just so you know, if you reward colleagues by taking them for a meal, drink or event, this will create a benefit in kind tax liability. The Co-op will pay this cost and recharge the amount of tax and National Insurance paid to your cost centre.

Things to think about

The main types of expenses you’re likely to incur are covered above. In appendix 1 you’ll find information on other forms of expenses you may need to claim from time to time.

Travel planning and assistance

To help us minimise risk to the Co-op, no more than three colleagues in grades A or B should travel together, wherever possible.

Always take care of any Co-op property and your own belongings when travelling. Only take essential personal items and don’t leave cash or valuables unattended, or put them in checked baggage if you’re flying.

If you need emergency assistance – for things like lost tickets, passports or other travel related issues outside of CTM’s office hours (8.30-17.30 Monday to Friday) then there is a 24 hour support line on 01908 002533.

The Co-op provides insurance cover through Aviva Insurance Ltd for all colleagues travelling on Co-op business. You can contact Aviva 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for:

  • emergency medical assistance and claims on 01243 621 066
  • non-emergency medical assistance and claims on 01243 621 416

Cover is subject to the terms and conditions and exclusions contained within the Aviva Insurance Ltd Group Personal Accident & Business Travel Policy. For more information please contact Insurance Services - find contacts details on the intranet. Remember that you won’t be covered if you travel against the advice of your medical practitioner.

Partners

If you want your partner to travel or stay with you while you’re travelling on business, their booking can be made through CTM. You’ll need to pay for any additional costs of them going with you, including all their meals and refreshments. If additional costs are charged to a Co-op cost centre, you must reimburse these. The exception to this is for external events where partners are invited – but you can only claim for the cost of partners where there’s a clear business need for them to attend.

If you need further support

If you have any questions about this policy, speak to your manager. If managers need advice they should contact ER Services.

If you need help with the expenses system, email colleagueexpenses@coop.co.uk or call 0330 606 9408 (Option 3).

If you need to get access to the CTM online system, email: cooponline@claritytm.co.uk or call the CTM Online Help Team on 0333 014 6073.

If you’re unable to book travel arrangements online, call CTM on: 0333 014 6071, or email your request to: tcgbookings@claritytm.co.uk

Appendix 1 – Other expenses

Conferences and events

If you need to arrange a conference or event, see the Events Guidance and Policy on the intranet.

Congestion charge

If you have to enter a congestion charge zone when travelling on business, you can reclaim the cost through expenses (“Tolls/Ferry with/without VAT”). You’ll need to give details of your journey on the system and provide a receipt. You can’t claim for congestion charges if you travel into the zone as part of your normal journey into work.

You won’t be able to claim for any fines or penalty payments you get for failing to pay or register for congestion charges.

Roadside recovery services

You can’t claim for membership fees of roadside recovery services, such as the AA or RAC as this is supplied with your car.

Essential emergency repairs to Co-op cars can be claimed under “Other” and must be accompanied by a receipt.

Guaranteed ride home

If you travel to work under an approved car sharing scheme and your travel arrangements break down so you can’t get home, you can claim for the cost of travelling home under “Guaranteed Ride Home”. You must regularly travel to work with another Co-op colleague, who doesn’t live at the same address as you, and the circumstances must have been unexpected – e.g. the car breaks down at work, or the person you share with is called away during the working day.

Relocation expenses

If you get a formal Co-op relocation offer then this will detail what expenses you can claim. Claims should be made under “Relocation Expenses Vatable/Non Vatable”.

Professional memberships, subscriptions and qualifications

You should agree any claims for the costs of professional memberships and subscriptions – such as CIPD, CIPS and CIMA - with your manager and claim under “Subscriptions Trade/Business with/without VAT” (Group)/”Professional Memberships” or “Business Subscriptions” (Insurance).

If you want to study towards a professional qualification, the cost of this can’t be claimed through the expenses system - see the Study Support Policy for information about how to apply for financial support for a course of study.

Gifts and colleague recognition

If you want to recognise a colleague for something they have done you should do this through the Colleague Recognition Scheme, rather than claim through on expenses - find details of the scheme on the intranet. You can also visit recognition.coop.co.uk for more information about recognising your Co-op colleagues.

If you want to give or receive gifts from colleagues, suppliers or other third parties you must make sure they are appropriate under the Code of Business Conduct and the Anti-Bribery Policy. You must record all gifts in your local 'Gifts and Hospitality Register' - find this on the intranet.

These gifts should be claimed under “Other”. You’ll need to give details of the person receiving the gift, their relationship to the Co-op and the reason for the gift. You should also say whether the gift includes an advertisement of our brand.

Just so it’s clear, gifts to colleagues to mark personal occasions - such as birthdays or a new baby - can’t be claimed through the expenses system.

Flowers

If you’re ordering flowers, contact the Co-op’s preferred florist, Rodgers Florist on 0161 860 7298 or sales@flowers-uk.co.uk. You’ll be asked to give your name and cost centre. This should be claimed under “Other”.

Other

You should order stationery, computer and AV equipment through the Co-op’s preferred suppliers, so you can’t claim for these through expenses.

Any other expenses that don’t fall within the categories above will need to be agreed with your manager. When making a claim, you’ll need to record these as “Other” and also give a reason for the expense within the “description” field.