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A Comprehensive Guide Business Expense Policy[+ Free Template]

Business Expense Policy

Creating a comprehensive business expense policy is crucial for effectively managing and controlling company expenses. A well-drafted policy provides clear guidelines on what expenses are reimbursable, sets spending limits, and ensures compliance with regulatory requirements. 

Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you create a robust business expense policy.

What is a Business Expense Policy & Why Do You Need One?

A business expense policy is a set of guidelines and rules established by a company to govern the reimbursement and management of expenses incurred by its employees, contractors, or anyone acting on behalf of the organization.

The primary purpose of such a policy is to ensure that business expenses are incurred for legitimate and necessary purposes and that there is a standardized and efficient process for reimbursement.

Here’s why having a business expense policy is essential:

You may ask how having a powerful expense policy is helpful? Here’s how: 

  1. Keeps usual unintentional events like duplicate receipts, repetitive claims, etc., under check
  2. Ensures control on general spends
  3. Helps finance teams with budget allocation for specific requirements 
  4. Helps to set a simple process to manage expense reimbursement
  5. Ensures that businesses and employees align with the tax and compliance guidelines laid down by local governing authorities

Business Travel Expense Policy Template

Here is a free, customizable copy of the business expense policy template you can use in your company. The template contains general reimbursement guidelines, reimbursable and non-reimbursable categories, payment methods, and policy exceptions.

Download your free copy of sample expense policy template today to create a comprehensive business expense policy.

How to Create Expense Policy Template for your Company? 

Here is the 8-step process to create a robust expense policy for your company (with free
business travel expense policy templates).

1. Define the Approach: Detail-Oriented vs. Broad Principles

Before you start creating your business expense policy, decide the approach you would want to
take. Our sample business travel expense policy will give you an insight on this. See if you want to go for a detail-oriented policy or the one that just outlines broad principles.

There is no right or wrong approach. Some businesses prefer a detailed expense policy where everything is written down and all scenarios are covered so there is less room for doubt.

On the other hand, there are businesses that believe that employees don’t read exhaustive policies and it is best to just lay out the broad principles and leave the rest to employees’ judgment. Netflix is a good example of this. Their expense policy is just five words “act in Netflix’s best interests”.

How you draft your policy will depend on the approach you take. Choose wisely! To help you
out in this regards, we have created a business travel expenses policy template you can download for free.

Pro-tip: It is a good idea to involve all the stakeholders right from the moment you decide the structure of your expense policy. This ensures complete visibility and better adoption in the long run.

2. Keep it Simple

Ensure your company expense policy is expressed in straightforward and easily comprehensible language. This clarity is essential to ensure employees understand business-related expenses’ dos and don’ts. An uncomplicated and clear policy facilitates understanding and enhances the likelihood of widespread adoption among the workforce.

3. Define Budget and Expense Categories

Your expense policy should have clearly defined annual budgets for teams and spend limits for employees (based on their bands). They should know upfront how much they can spend on the company’s behalf.

Another critical aspect is defining various expense categories and clearly stating what is eligible for employee expense reimbursement and what isn’t. You can refer to the free business travel expense policy template that we have given in the blog to understand more.

4. Enlist the Payment Modes 

Your organization might have different kinds of payment modes for various spends. For instance, you might have a card for subscription payments of tools, cash advances for some impromptu purchase, etc. Your policy should detail out the scenarios to use a specific payment mode, spend limit, and process of reimbursement for each. Listed below are the most commonly used modes of payment by employees for business purposes: 

  • A company-issued credit card: Have a clear policy on credit card spend limits, define who is the in-charge of the card, and how the employee should track payments 
  • Advance payment to employees: In your travel expense policy, mention situations when cash advances are applicable, the approvals needed for the same, and have a process set up for returning any remaining amount along with proof of expenses.
  • Payments from an employee’s pocket: Clearly define the situations when an employee can spend their own money for business affairs and process to file such out-of-pocket expense claims 

No matter how your employees pay the business travel expenses, ensure that they are well aware of limits, approvals required, and the process of reimbursement. 

5. Build a Compliant Approval Flow

While it’s advisable to avoid crafting a policy necessitating the CEO’s approval for every expenditure, certain substantial expenses, such as international travel, necessitate the endorsement of senior management.

Establishing a clearly defined approval workflow that encompasses exceptions streamlines the process and contributes to a positive employee experience. This approach saves valuable time and effort for all stakeholders involved.

6. Clearly Define Reimbursement Process with Timelines

While drafting the policy, do spend some time creating a simple reimbursement process. You can refer our corporate travel expenses policy template.

  • where to file for reimbursement – on paper, email, or the expense management solution
  • when to file – weekly, monthly, or quarterly 
  • how to submit receipts – paper receipt or scanned copy 

Along with these prerequisites, spend some time defining the whole expense reimbursement process, from approvals to repayment, with a timeline at each stage. Please go through our sample business travel expense policy for better insight.

While you move towards the end of drafting a business expense policy for your organization, ensure your expense policy complies with the local legalities. Consult with an expert, include necessary clauses, and mention what happens in case of any legal violation. 

8. Keep Updating the Policy Regularly 

Building an travel expense policy isn’t limited to just circulating it once – it is important to closely observe the changing times, trends, and requirements and accordingly make edits to it. For example, with work-from-home becoming the new trend, it is essential to include the evolving expenses like home office supplies, home office internet, physical and mental wellness, masks and PPEs, and more. However, you might have to revisit your policy once the office restarts for everyone.

Get Free T&E Policy Template

Leverage Technology to Create the Best Business Expense Policy

Creating an expense policy for your business is only half the work done. Most organizations struggle with the implementation part. Wondering if there is a way to ensure policy compliance in your organization? Well, automating expense management is the answer. 

Having a cloud-based integrated travel & expense management software like ITILITE with capabilities to configure dynamic policy & approval flows easily will help you build and implement custom policies. To know how you can ensure 100% policy compliance with the ITILITE corporate travel management solution, book a free consultation with our product specialist today.

Discover a simpler way to manage corporate travel

Corporate travel management can be extremely daunting. Getting travelers to stick to budgets while booking travel, monitoring spends or finding support for travelers – there is always something that needs to be done. That’s why we built a solution that makes corporate travel management simpler.

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