"TEA FOR TWO" - THE IMPORTANCE OF AN EFFECTIVE BUSINESS EXPENSES POLICY
The Employment Tribunal has recently found that a Citibank employee of 7 years was not unfairly dismissed when the company decided to dismiss him for gross misconduct in relation to an expense claim.
So why did the Tribunal make this decision when the claim fell within Citibank’s permitted daily allowance of €100 for expenses such as food, drink and travel?
The facts of the case
It came down to the following facts:
The expenses policy made it clear spousal travel and meals could not be charged as an expense.
Despite the restrictions, the employee submitted an expense claim for 2 sandwiches, 2 coffees and 2 pastas for a business trip in Amsterdam, for him and his partner.
Suspicions were raised as to the quantity of consumption; when questioned, the employee argued that the claim was within the daily allowance. However, the bank’s concerns did not relate to the amount being claimed but whether the employee had breached its expenses policy.
When asked on multiple occasions the employee denied the expenses also related to his partner. However, he later admitted that they had travelled together and shared meals.
Citibank dismissed the employee for gross misconduct, not only in relation to a breach of the policy but also that he had not been honest about the expenses. The employee brought claims for wrongful and unfair dismissal in the Employment Tribunal.
The Tribunal’s decision in more detail
The Employment Tribunal concluded that the employee’s dismissal without notice was fair. Although the sums of money involved were not significant, it was the employee’s conduct when he made the expense claim and responded to Citibank’s investigations that was relevant. As an analyst specialising in financial crime, he was employed in a position of trust and had a duty to be honest, even if the claim had been made under a misunderstanding.
While this case was equally about the employee’s honesty and a breach of Citibank’s rules, it does highlight the importance for organisations to have a formal expenses policy, that sets the rules and controls for employee spending. Without these in place, Citibank’s starting position about what is not a business expense may have been harder to advance.
Areas that should be considered when implementing or updating an effective expenses policy:
Set clear categories and budgets to control spending.
Require prior approval and evidence of expenditure.
Monitor and enforce the expenses policy.
To make sure your expenses policy is up to scratch, contact FG Solicitors today on 0808 172 93 22 or complete our quick contact form for a no obligation discussion!
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This update is for general guidance only and advice should be taken in relation to a particular set of circumstances.