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 necessary.
We’ve all got a responsibility to follow this Policy and spend Co-op’s money carefully. This policy applies to all Co-op colleagues. Any contractors or temporary agency workers working for Co-op should refer to the Supplier Expenses Policy.
Important things to know
- Every little bit of saving helps. It all adds up! Please act cost consciously and make sure that any spend is covered in your budget
- Consider how you can use virtual technology first before booking any travel. Virtual meetings are more time efficient and can also help us all manage our work life balance
- Use our partner (Clarity) to book your travel. We won’t be able to reimburse expense claims for travel booked elsewhere
- For expenses approved under this policy, remember to keep itemised receipts for any spend. Doing this will avoid delays and make payment quicker
- Before you book, consider whether there might be more sustainable options available to you. Co-op is committed to reducing its impact on the environment. We have a goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040, reducing our travel will help us achieve to this
- Your safety is very important to us. Travelling takes time and inherently includes some risks – please consider these before booking
- 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 Policy
- If you're a line manager, it's your responsibility to check that any expense claims meet this policy before you approve them. If you approve expenses which aren't in line with this policy, we’ll investigate and may need to deal with the matter under the Disciplinary Policy
You can claim your expenses through the online Expense Claim System. Expenses must be claimed within four weeks of the date of the expense. Please 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.
You should claim expenses against your team’s cost centre – so just check that this is set up correctly in the system. If it isn’t correct, please make sure it’s changed in MyHR by your line manager so it filters through to the P2D 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.
You’ll need to agree all travel bookings in advance. Speak to your manager before booking anything. 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 IT Services. Use free video conferencing services such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Skype and Facetime where appropriate and only when we have a license in place.
If you do need to book travel you must do this online through Clarity. We use Clarity 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. If you don’t book online through Clarity and try to claim through expenses, we won’t be able to reimburse you.
When booking trains, flights and hotels, make sure you use Clarity’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: firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Clarity Online Help Team on 0333 014 6073.
Where possible, book all travel at least 14 days in advance as this is usually more cost effective for our Co-op.
All bookings made through Clarity will be charged to your cost centre. Your manager will need to review and approve your booking before it's processed by Clarity.
If you’re arranging travel for 10 people or more for the same event, please book this through the Clarity Events Team. Email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call 0333 014 6074.
You’ll need to agree any hotel booking in advance with your manager and you must book these through Clarity’s online booking system. Any hotel bookings not made through Clarity will not be reimbursed.
The earlier you book the better your chance at getting your choice of an approved hotel.
If you have any safety concerns on arrival at your hotel or after your stay, please let Clarity know.
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:
In the unlikely event that 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 Clarity’s online booking system. If you can’t access this, then can call Clarity on 0333 014 6071. Clarity can be contacted 24 hours a day
• Your Safety:
Your wellbeing and safety are important to us. When travelling and staying away from home please make sure that you think about any potential risks involved. This includes making sure that you book your travel at safe times especially if you're travelling alone.
If there’s two of you staying, then an apartment might be cheaper than two hotel rooms – ask Clarity 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”. You can claim this in addition to your meal costs – see below.
Trains, Trams, Tube and Buses
All train tickets over £10 must be booked through Clarity. All train tickets must be standard class. Clarity will book you an advanced ticket as standard, any exception to this will need to be approved in advance by your line manager. There may be small admin charges for any changes made after a booking has been made, but even taking this into account an advance ticket is usually more cost effective.
London Underground one-day travel cards should also be booked through Clarity’s online booking system.
All other train, tram, tube and bus tickets under £10 do not need to be booked through Clarity and can be purchased and reclaimed via expenses.
All flights need to be approved by a member of the Group Executive where the necessity of travel will be considered alongside the Co-op’s net zero ambition.
If you need to fly internationally, journeys above seven hours may be booked in premium economy. Business class may be approved in exceptional circumstances.
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 for more information.
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 People Advisor, 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 have a home-based contract of employment and have no defined area/region, or your region is all of the UK, you can claim mileage for all business journeys. This does not apply for those colleagues who work from home most of the time if their contract of employment states a different location
- 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 here. All mileage claims must be submitted with appropriate VAT fuel receipts, dated within 30 days of the date of the journey being claimed for. A receipt covers you for 30 days before and after the date of the receipt; please also attach relevant receipts to cover the amount you are claiming for. If you have a fully electric vehicle, we understand that providing a receipt can be challenging. Claims for fully electric vehicles can be submitted without a receipt subject to your managers approval.
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.
If you need to hire a vehicle you should agree this with your manager and book this through Clarity. If you’re based in Manchester check first if there are any pool vehicles available through Manchester Pool Vehicles. If not then you’ll be advised to contact Clarity on 0333 014 6071.
If you’ve got an Essential User or Work Level Related car (or cash allowance) then you can’t hire a car other than in exceptional circumstances and with authorisation from a manager Work Level 3 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 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 (for all areas), 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 Clarity.
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.
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.
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:
Maximum allowance: £7
Expense claim type: Breakfast
Maximum allowance: Co-op doesn't reimburse the cost of lunches Expense claim type: n/a
Dinner / Room Service
Maximum allowance: £20 (not including any alcoholic drinks – soft drinks only)
Expense claim type: Evening meal – cold take-away food / for visit to temporary workplace
If you choose room service instead of visiting a restaurant, charges for room service can be reimbursed up to the same value of £20 not including alcoholic drinks. Any additional charge for room service that takes the total claim to over £20 should be claimed separately through the expenses system under “Other” and a receipt must be provided to show the room service charge was incurred.
In addition to the evening meal allowance you can claim for the cost of service charges, up to the value of 12.5%. Remember that you must provide itemised receipts for all expenses and only claim for the food you have purchased. This includes the 12.5% service charge.
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.
Internal meetings and events
You can’t claim expenses for gifts, food or drink at internal meetings.
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 Clarity. Please check with the Learning and Development team before booking any training. You can email the team at email@example.com
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.
You can claim this under “Entertainment: Customer/Staff mixed”. You’ll need to give the names, job titles and companies of the people there and the reason for the entertainment.
If you’re a line manager, you can claim expenses for things like meals out for recognising colleagues or team building-type events. However please act cost consciously. The event must be reasonable, appropriate and any meals and soft drinks claimed within the meal allowances in the table above. No more than £20 per person should be spent and no claims can be made for any alcohol bought at team building type events.
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 recognise 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 Work Levels 1 and 2 should travel together, wherever possible.
It might go without saying, but 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 lost tickets/passports or other travel related issues, outside Clarity’s office hours (8.30-17.30 Monday to Friday) there's a 24 hour support line on 01908 002 533.
The Co-op provides insurance cover through Aviva Insurance Ltd for all colleagues travelling on Co-op business. You can contact Aviva 24 hours, 365 days a year on:
- Emergency Medical Assistance and Claims on +44 (0)1243 621 066
- Emergency Non-Medical Assistance Claims on +44 (0) 1243 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. Remember that you won’t be covered if you travel against the advice of your medical practitioner.
If you want your partner to travel and/or stay with you while you’re travelling on business, their booking can be made through Clarity. 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 need to get agreement in advance from a member of the Co-op Executive, or one of their direct reports in line with the Gifts and Hospitality Policy.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0330 606 9408 (Option 3).
If you need to get access to the Clarity online system, email: email@example.com or call the Clarity Online Help Team on 0333 014 6073.
If you’re unable to book travel arrangements online, call Clarity on: 0333 014 6071, or email your request to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Appendix 1 – Other expenses
Conferences and events
If you need to arrange a conference or event, contact the Events Team.
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 (e.g. 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.
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”.
If you need to post an item use Swisspost or the postage process in the location you are working from. If you are working remotely and need to post an item through the Post Office, use the cheapest method and claim under “Postage” with a receipt.
If you're away from home and need to use the Internet or Wifi for business purposes, please tether your device to your Co-op mobile phone or use the free services that are available. If this isn't possible you can claim under “Other” for Internet and wifi use of no more than £5 a day with a receipt.
Professional memberships, subscriptions and qualifications
If you are Work Level 4 and above, you cannot claim for the cost of any professional membership and subscriptions. You may be able to claim tax relief on the cost if you must pay the fees to do your role – read the HMRC Advice for more information.
For colleagues outside of Work Levels 1-4, 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”. Only one claim can be made in each financial year and all professional membership or subscription costs must be directly relevant to your role.
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.
We know that there will be times when it’s appropriate to give colleagues small gifts in recognition of their achievements.
If a colleague really has done something special then you can buy a small gift (ideally from the Co-op so our communities continue to benefit!) and give it to the colleague in person. You can claim this through expenses, along with a receipt. Recognition gifts should be claimed under ‘Colleague Recognition’ under the appropriate line depending on the purchase. Just so you know, this scheme is designed to recognise frontline colleagues in the main.
There’s a maximum spend limit of £15 per person for colleague recognition and the recipient’s name must be included in the claim. Claims can be submitted for a whole team as long as all recipients’ names are included and spend is within the limit of £15 per person.
Make sure you detail what’s been bought for recognition so that Co-op pays the correct tax and VAT. You can only claim expenses for the amount of money that you’ve spent, after any colleague discounts have been applied.
Just so it’s clear, gifts to mark personal occasions – such as birthdays or a new baby – can’t be claimed through the expenses system. There’s more information about recognising your colleagues on Thank You for Being Co-op.
If you want to give or receive gifts from 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.
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.
If you’re ordering flowers, please use the Co-op's preferred florist, Designer Flowers by Rodgers. Once you've raised your Purchase Order in Coupa, email your PO Number along with details of the chosen floral arrangement to email@example.com. To view the Designer Flowers by Rodgers range, visit www.rodgerstheflorists.co.uk and if you have any queries call 0161 881 8822. Just so it’s clear, flowers to mark personal occasions – such as birthdays, retirement or a new baby – can’t be charged to Co-op.
Stationery, IT and other equipment
You should order stationery, computer and AV equipment through the Co-op’s approved suppliers using Coupa, you can’t claim for these through expenses.
If you chose to use your personal device for work, you can’t claim expenses for any repairs needed and you are responsible for paying any charges relating to data use– see the Bring Your own Device terms and conditions for more information.
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.