Travel

Category: Employment
Number: EMP-050-005
Audience: All University employees
Issued: January 02, 2012
Revised: July 10, 2019
Owner(s): VP (Administration)
Approved by: Board of Governors
Contact: Associate Vice-President (Finance) - 306-585-4171

Introduction

This policy outlines the University’s position on University travel, including travel related to research grants, University contracts, prospective employees, and visiting speakers or lecturers, etc. This policy applies regardless of whether the travel is charged to an operating account, a research account or any other account administered by the University. Note that researchers need to be aware of the particular restrictions of their grant or contract and need to follow the regulations pertaining to those agreements in addition to the University regulations.

For meal and entertainment expenses that are not related to travel, see APEA Frequently Asked Questions.

Policy

Employees or other individuals may be required to travel on University business. The University has processes in place to accommodate University-related travel in the most cost effective manner and to reimburse personally incurred travel expenses. Travel must be approved in advance by the budget authority for the account the travel will be charged to.

Travel Authorization

Employees are required to complete a Travel Authorization Request Form prior to departure on University travel. The only exception is out-of-scope employees with a pay grade of 10 or higher, who do not have to complete the form since they have 24 hour insurance coverage.

A Travel Authorization Request Form is used to:

  • inform the University as to the employee's whereabouts;
  • ensure that the absence can be accommodated by the Faculty or Department;
  • authorize travel;
  • authorize the amount of funding available;
  • assess risk;
  • request a cash advance, if necessary; and
  • ensure travel accident insurance coverage is in place.

Corporate Travel Agency

Travellers have the right to choose the method for booking travel arrangements that provides the most economical cost savings to the University. For travel arrangements that require the services of a travel agent, the University endorses a preferred corporate travel agency. In most situations, the preferred corporate travel agency is able to obtain the lowest rates available.

Frequent Flyer Programs

The University does not participate in or sponsor frequent flyer plan memberships for employees. It is the view of the Canada Revenue Agency that, where an employer does not control the points accumulated under these programs, it is the responsibility of the employee to determine and include in income the fair market value of any benefits received or enjoyed. The Canada Revenue Agency does not require the University to include these employment benefits in an employee’s income, so long as:

  • the points are not converted to cash
  • the plan or arrangement is not indicative of an alternate form of remuneration, or
  • the plan or arrangement is not for tax avoidance purposes.

It is recognized that many employees are members of frequent flyer plans, either for personal travel or with the points being used to support University- or research-related travel. Therefore, frequent flyer membership numbers may be given to the University's preferred corporate travel agency as part of an employee’s travel profile. This will ensure that points are accrued.

In order to avoid the assessment of a taxable benefit by Canada Revenue Agency for points earned on University travel, employees are advised to use points earned on University travel for future University-related travel.

Cash Advances

Employees who are eligible to travel on behalf of the University are also eligible for a corporate travel card (see EMP-050-015 Corporate Travel Card) and should therefore not require a cash advance. However, unusual circumstances may arise in which a cash advance from the University is required.

If a Corporate Travel Card has been revoked because of nonpayment of legitimate charges, a cash advance will not be issued.

Travel Risk Reduction

Each faculty, department or administrative unit shall minimize its exposure to a catastrophic loss by limiting the number of employees travelling in the same vehicle (plane, train, automobile, van, bus, boat, etc.) whenever practical to do so. When international travel is involved, special attention should be directed to properly evaluating the exposures of travelling using the modes of transportation that are available at the foreign destination.

The following groups each form one unit:

  • The Associate Vice-Presidents, Vice-Presidents and President;
  • The members of the Board of Governors; and
  • The Deans, Associate Vice-Presidents and Directors collectively.

Travel Expenses

Travellers must account for all travel expenditures. Reimbursement of expenditures is limited to funds available and approved in advance of travel.

Accompanied Travel

There may be occasion where a spouse, partner or other individual associated with an employee may wish to accompany the employee on University-related travel.  Accompanied travel is permitted; however, incremental costs must be covered at the employee’s expense and are not claimable. Further, the University will not reimburse costs incurred from travel or delays that may arise to the traveling partner through business being conducted by the employee.

Approvals

Reimbursement Claims are to be approved by the employee’s direct supervisor who signed the Travel Authorization Request Form. Reimbursement Claims by the President are to be approved by the Chair of the Board of Governors. Reimbursement Claims by Board members are to be approved by the Executive Director, University Governance. Employees reporting to a Vice-President may have their reimbursement claims approved by the Associate Vice-President (Finance) if that Vice-President has delegated the authority to do so to the Associate Vice-President (Finance).

Reimbursement Amounts

Only the net cost of expenditures will be reimbursed. For example, where discounts, personal credit card reward points, air miles, or gift cards reduce the cost of travel costs, only the net amount of the expense is reimbursable by the University.

Meal Per Diems

Travellers may claim the lesser of reasonable and actual meal costs. Actual meal costs must be supported by paid, itemized receipts and must be reasonable. Only reasonable food and beverage consumption is reimbursable.  In cases where external research funds are utilized (i.e. NSERC, SSHRC, CIHR) reimbursement of alcohol is strictly prohibited.

The University has established per diem amounts for reimbursement of meals while travelling which are considered reasonable without presentation of paid receipts. Blended claims are acceptable (i.e. per diem breakfast, per diem lunch, paid receipt supper) but paid receipts must be submitted to claim actual meal costs in excess of the per diem rates. The per diems are the maximum allowed to a traveller if unsupported by receipts and include the cost of food, beverages (includes alcohol) with the meal, tips, etc.; if actual expenditures are less, the lesser amount must be claimed. 

The per diem rates are reviewed annually and the current rates in effect are set out below.

Meals

In Sask.
(Canadian Funds)

Outside Sask.
in Canada**
(Canadian Funds)

Outside Canada
(U.S. Funds)

Breakfast

Lunch

Supper

        $  8.00

          14.00

          19.00

       $ 11.00

          16.00

          24.00

        $ 11.00

           16.00

           24.00

Daily Total

        $ 41.00

       $ 51.00

        $ 51.00

** It is recognized that in the north, food and incidentals are extremely expensive. As such, actual expenses are paid in full and are recognized as being much higher than experienced in central Canada. For per diems in the north, the rates described by the National Joint Council are permissable: https://www.njc-cnm.gc.ca/directive/d10/v238/s659/en

Per diem rates include taxes and gratuities. Daily meal expenditures that are in excess of the above will be recognized only if supported by original receipts and if reasonable for the location and situation.

Excluded Meals

Some meals are provided as part of airline tickets or conference and convention registration fees. The amount allocated for these meals in the per diem allowance is to be deducted from the daily total claimed. If travel only covers a portion of the day on the day of departure or day of return, claims for meals are only permitted for the meals for which the individual was away from their normal place of residence.

Sundries

An additional $5.00 per day may be added to the per diem rate for each day the employee is required to be absent from his or her normal place of residence, to cover actual costs incurred for sundries such as toiletries, newspapers, personal long distance telephone calls, laundry, etc. This amount can be claimed in U.S. funds during international travel to the U.S. or in the local currency of the travel destination, as applicable.

Airfare

Airline seats should be booked in a regular economy class fare that permits immediate seat selection as part of the fare (referred to as flex fare) unless higher level fares are offered that are less expensive, in which case the least expensive fare should be selected. If an airfare of higher level is required to meet special business related travel needs (i.e. checked bag(s), flight change/cancellation included), evidence must be attached to the travel authorization form and to the reimbursement claim form to demonstrate the fare comparison. The cost for preferred seat selection is authorized to permit the traveller to work on the flight.

A Faculty/Administrative Unit budget manager may approve the use of operating funds for premium or business class airfare if:

  • the trip requires travel segments in the air of seven (7) hours or more; or
  • the employee will engage in work activities upon arrival, without at least twelve (12) consecutive hours of rest period, to a destination within the North American region; or
  • the employee will engage in work activities upon arrival, without at least twenty-four (24) consecutive hours of rest period, to a destination outside the North American region.

Approval in these cases must be secured in advance of booking the flight and documentation of this approval must be retained and attached to the reimbursement claim.

Advance bookings should be made wherever possible.

The traveller’s Corporate Travel Card should be used to purchase airline tickets. If a traveller does not have a Corporate Travel Card and an airline ticket has to be purchased early to get a reduced rate, a Reimbursement Claim Form for the ticket’s cost may be submitted prior to the trip being taken. Alternatively, the advance ticket could be charged to a University procurement card thereby avoiding the need for advance Reimbursement Claim.

Trip Cancellation Insurance

The internal self-insured University trip cancellation insurance only covers the same insured perils as commercial trip cancellation insurance. The primary insured perils are a severe illness of the traveller, and severe illness or death in the traveller’s immediate family. Medical documentation may be required to substantiate a claim. Trip cancellation insurance does not cover travel cancelled due to cancelled meetings, bad weather, political upheaval at destination, etc. See the University’s policy on Travel Insurance (EMP-050-010) for further information.

Trip cancellation insurance is not a claimable expense. Legitimate expenses for delays or cancellation beyond the control of the traveller and not compensated for by the airline will be reimbursed with receipts (e.g. extra night accommodation or meals).

Employees who book flights through the University travel agent will be eligible to receive travel assistance 24/7 should their flights be cancelled or changed once travel begins.

Hotel Accommodation

Employees are expected to seek hotel accommodations that are comfortable, convenient, meet business and personal needs, and offer good value. Accommodations can be booked with the University's Corporate Travel Card. In extraordinary cases, a purchase order may be generated to cover the accommodations.

Hotels have a variety of room rates and the corporate rate is not always the lowest. Hotel accommodations may be booked through the preferred corporate travel agency or personally, whichever is the most efficient and cost saving method. Detailed information on rates is available on the Supply Management Services website.

Entertainment/Hospitality

There are situations where employees incur costs for entertainment in carrying out the University’s activities.  There must be clear documentation as to the business purpose of the hospitality (e.g. taking out a guest lecturer for a meal, or interviewing a potential faculty member), noting the names of the individuals, or the group, involved.  Hospitality expenditures may include food and non-alcoholic beverages.  Reimbursement for expenses related to alcoholic beverages may only be allowed in special circumstances where it is warranted as part of an organized function or is considered necessarily related to the business purpose.  Such circumstances may include social, athletic, fundraising and cultural events.  Employees are required to exercise sound judgement in this regard.  Service of alcohol at events specifically focused on students is normally not appropriate.  Having alcohol available at events that include students must be approved in advance by one of the Vice-Presidents.

If there is any doubt as to the interpretation of “special circumstances” authorization should be obtained in advance from the Vice-President (Administration).

Most granting agencies do not allow hospitality or entertainment expenses or alcoholic beverages as claimable expenses.

Registration fees

Receipts or copies of registration forms and proof of payment must support claims for registration fees.

Private Accommodation

Where a traveller benefits from private accommodation (i.e. staying in the home of family or friends), a per diem of up to $35 per day may be claimed in recognition of the service being provided. No receipts for gifts or payments to the host are required.

Costs Related to Non-University Persons

Costs for non-University individuals are not claimable except as included in entertainment. Where a non-University individual accompanies the University traveller and the room rate exceeds that for single occupancy, the extra accommodation costs may not be charged to the University but are to be borne personally.

Telephone Calls

Telephone calls claimed must be explained as to their relation to University business. When travelling for work purposes, reasonable expenses related to international roaming fees and cell phone service charges will be reimbursed according to the rates that the network service providers have in place in the location where business is to be conducted. Personal calls are not allowable expenses except as permitted under Sundries.

Dependent Care Expenses

On occasion, University travel can require an employee to incur childcare or eldercare expenses over and above what is normally required. In those circumstances, reasonable dependent care expenses when travelling outside of normal working hours are reimbursable if unpaid alternatives are not available. The claim requires a supporting receipt from someone other than a spouse, partner, or person ordinarily resident in the home and a brief explanation of why the expenditure should be reimbursed.

Ground Transportation

Ground mode transportation must be used in cases where it is economically justified and not as a matter of personal convenience. The amount billed to the University based on the mode selected must not exceed the cost of coach or economy airline prices. If ground mode transportation is selected, the traveller is to use the most economical, reasonable mode available.

Personal Vehicles

Where employees use their own vehicles for University business, they may claim the lesser of economy airfare or an allowance of forty-two cents ($0.42) per kilometer effective May 1, 2014.

Mileage reimbursement represents compensation for all related vehicle expenses (gasoline, depreciation, maintenance, licensing, insurance, etc.). Additional payments for gasoline, oil, insurance, insurance deductibles, repairs, etc. are not reimbursable expenses.

For travel in the United States, the above rate applies but in U.S. currency. No GST rebate is available on U.S. mileage reimbursements.

Rented Vehicles

Employees are encouraged to minimize travel costs whenever possible. The University provides options for Central Vehicle Agency (CVA) rented vehicles and non-CVA rented vehicles. Information on car rentals, both CVA and non-CVA, may be obtained from Supply Management Services.

Employees who do not want the wear and tear on their personal vehicle or who feel that the mileage rate is insufficient should rent a vehicle.

Foreign Currency

Reimbursements will be made in Canadian funds. Expenses paid in foreign currency are to be shown on the claim in both the foreign currency and in Canadian dollars. Where the rate of exchange is shown on the attached documentation, that rate will be used. Where rates of exchange are not documented, the conversion will be made at the rates published closest to the date of the travel.

Carbon Offset Programs

The University is supportive in principle of reducing the amount of carbon that we all put into the environment. However, the University must balance that principle with the fact that the University is a charity that accepts donations, and the University does not make financial donations to other charities or charitable causes. Additional information is available at http://www.uregina.ca/fs/sms/about-us/sustainability.html.

Certain airlines and other vendors promote carbon offset programs whereby a fee is paid to offset the carbon that the travel is creating and then the fee is used in activities that reduce carbon in the environment. If such a fee is mandatory and the traveller cannot, for example, purchase an airline ticket without also paying for the carbon offset fee, then the fee is an allowable expenditure that is claimable as part of the traveller's expenses. If such a fee is optional, then the fee is not claimable from the University and would constitute a personal expense of the traveller.

Passport Fees and Related Expenses; Costs of Vaccinations

Normally, travel related fees for personal documentation and vaccinations are considered personal expenses and are not reimbursable by the University with funds from any source (i.e. research funds, operating budget or APEA).

The basic principle is that employees should be reimbursed for costs that they had to incur as a result of their University responsibilities, but they should not be reimbursed for costs that they would have incurred anyway for personal reasons.

The following expenses may be claimable if the employee is required to travel outside of Canada on University business AND are not normally purchased for personal travel:

  • Passport fees (if previously not held and only if required for travel on University business)
  • Passport photo fee (as above)
  • NEXUS fees (if previously not held and only if required for travel on University business)
  • Vaccination fees (acquired solely due to University travel and would not have been acquired for personal reasons)
  • Travel visa fees (related to University business)

In all instances, the employee must indicate that the above documents/vaccinations are required for work purposes.

Travel Reporting

Each Senior Executive provides quarterly reports, available to the public, of his or her University related travel. The reports include:
  • travel dates
  • destination
  • purpose
  • costs

Consequences for Noncompliance

An employee who does not receive travel authorization, or who submits a Travel Reimbursement Claim that is not accompanied by the required documentation, may not be reimbursed for expenses. An employee who submits a false Travel Reimbursement Claim may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment, and may also be subject to collection agency pursuit, legal action, or referral to a law enforcement agency.

Failure to clear a cash advance within ten working days of the date of return indicated on the Travel Authorization Request Form may result in payroll deduction in the amount of the unaccounted advance.

Processes

Requesting Authorization to Travel

  1. A Travel Authorization Request Form must be completed, approved, and received in Financial Services before travel is to occur.
  2. Faculty who regularly travel to out-of-town classes should submit one Travel Authorization Request Form in respect of their out-of-town classes per semester.
  3. The instructor of a class which participates in a field trip is required to complete a Travel Authorization Request Form. A list of those participating in the field trip is to be attached, and the approved form is to be received by Financial Services prior to the field trip. 

It is important that all of the information on the Travel Authorization Request Form be completed for each trip. If a group of trips are planned, a detailed schedule for each trip including dates and destinations must be submitted with the Travel Authorization Request Form. Should a travel accident insurance claim be necessary, the completed form will expedite processing and reduce disputes. It also provides evidence as to the type of travel authorized -- the costs of travel not required by the University can be considered a taxable benefit, subject to statutory deductions and included in T4's (income for taxation purposes) at the calendar year end.

Booking Travel through the Preferred Corporate Travel Agency

  1. Contact the preferred corporate travel agency (See Supply Management Services).
  2. Establish a travel profile with the agency.
  3. Direct any travel agency related issues to Supply Management Services for resolution.

Requesting a Cash Advance

  1. A Travel Authorization Request Form must be completed (including the section on Cash Advance), approved, and received in Financial Services the Friday prior to the Friday the advance is required.
  2. The direct supervisor, with approval from the budget authority, must sign the request form recommending the cash advance, including an explanation of the unusual circumstances, such as:
    1. an employee is travelling on University business who does not usually travel on behalf of the University and who, in consequence, does not have a Corporate Travel Card; or
    2. it is not practicable to use the Corporate Travel Card or an alternate card.
  3. A cash advance is issued one week prior to the date on the Travel Authorization Request Form.
  4. A cash advance must be cleared within ten working days of the date of return indicated on the Travel Authorization Request Form, either by repayment or by submission of a duly authorized Reimbursement Claim Form.

Renting a Vehicle

Information on car rentals, both CVA and non-CVA, may be obtained from Supply Management Services.

 

Non Central Vehicle Agency (CVA)

The University has a contract in place for the provision of rental vehicles. See the Supply Management Services website.

The University’s policy on Insurance (OPS-060-005) discusses insurance coverage available, and what may be required from the rental company, for rented vehicles.

Central Vehicle Agency (CVA)

  1. Travellers who request a CVA vehicle must have a valid driver’s license issued in the Province of Saskatchewan.
  2. Credit cards are available in all CVA vehicles for gas and maintenance to said vehicle and can only be used within Saskatchewan.
  3. Travellers can request a CVA vehicle from Supply Management Services.

Claiming Expenses

Expenditures must be charged to the University’s fiscal year to which they pertain. The University’s fiscal year end is April 30. All claims for reimbursement of expenditures incurred up to April 30 must be submitted to Financial Services by the third business day after April 30. There is no obligation for the University to reimburse claims received after the third business day in May for expenses incurred prior to April 30. In addition, certain federal granting agencies have March 31 fiscal year ends. For expenditures being claimed for reimbursement from those grant funds, claims for reimbursement of expenditures incurred up to March 31 must be submitted to Financial Services by the third business day after March 31.

Reimbursement Claims

  1. Travel expenses are to be recorded on a Reimbursement Claim Form. The signed and approved form is to be forwarded to the Miscellaneous Disbursements Clerk in Financial Services.
  2. Reimbursement Claims are submitted to Financial Services within ten working days of the return date of the trip. Claims for travel around the University's year-end of April 30 are to be submitted as promptly as possible, and no later than May 14.
  3. For each item on the Reimbursement Claim Form, the GST must be broken out separately in order to permit the claiming of GST rebates. Most receipts show the GST separately and that is the amount that should be used. For those receipts that only show a total (i.e. taxi receipts, per diems, mileage), the GST can be calculated by multiplying the total receipt by 5/105ths. This calculation does not work for airline tickets; the ticket or travel agency invoice actual GST amounts should be used.
  4. To claim per diems, an employee fills out the Information Required for Per Diem Reimbursement Claims form. The form can be found in the Reimbursement Claim Form Per Diem Support tab.
  5. Reimbursement Claims will be reviewed by Financial Services. Claims that are deficient will be returned requesting additional documentation or explanations in order to provide the required audit trail.
  6. Employees are required to receive their reimbursement via direct bank deposit.  Employees submitting their initial reimbursement claim should include a completed Direct Deposit Authorization form (184 KB) pdf.

Receipts Required

Receipts substantiate claims for reimbursement. Original receipts or paid invoices are required as support documentation for expenditures in order to meet audit requirements. Photocopies are not acceptable.

To claim expenses, include the following documentation:

  • Receipts which include a vendor’s GST Registration number and GST amounts, or an indication that the GST is included in the price are to be stapled to the back of the Reimbursement Claim form in the order in which they are claimed.
  • Claims for air, rail and ship board travel must be supported by the passenger's copy of the ticket and the corresponding boarding pass.
  • For accommodation, a detailed receipt is required showing the number of nights’ accommodation and the rate per night. 
  • Where payment for the item was made with a credit card, the claim must include a detailed invoice or till receipt, not simply the credit card transaction slip for the total purchase price.
  • Receipts are required for:
    • taxi fares and inter-city bus fares;
    • registration fees (copies of registration forms and proof of payment will be accepted);
    • entertainment costs (include a statement of those entertained and the reason for the entertainment);
    • vehicle rentals; and
    • all other expenses where it is practicable to provide a receipt, or where proof of the expenditure is prudent.

The following are exceptions to the receipt requirement:

  • per diem meal claims
  • tips and gratuities (explanation required)
  • mileage for use of personal vehicles (receipts are required for parking)
  • where cancelled cheques are not obtainable, photocopies of the cheque accompanied by invoice (subscription renewal, membership form, registration form, packing slip, etc.) will be accepted

Certain items such as registration and membership fees may be tax deductible to the employee. The employee has the option of claiming the amount as a tax deduction or being reimbursed, subject to approved funding, with submission of the original tax-deductible receipt.

Related Information