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Travel and Expense Policy

Policy Statement

It is the policy of Seneca College to reimburse allowable travel, meal and hospitality expenses, and to ensure that the expenditure of College funds is properly authorized, supports College business, initiatives, and goals, and is of an appropriate standard.

Rules and procedures surrounding expenditures and employee reimbursement of expenses are based on four principles.

  1. Accountability. All travel and expense claims submitted by employees, or expenses incurred by the College must be the result of College business activity.
  2. Transparency. All rules and policies surrounding travel, meals and hospitality and employee reimbursement for these expenses are available to employees and the public on the College web site.
  3. Value for Money. College funds must be used prudently and safeguarded. All expenses incurred must support the College's objectives, be economical with due regard for health and safety, and have appropriate authorization.
  4. Fairness. Legitimate and authorized expenses incurred by employees while on College business will be reimbursed. An employee should not incur a financial loss as a result of providing authorized College business.

This policy is consistent with the Broader Public Sector Expenses Directive, issued by the Management Board of Cabinet.

Administrative Guidelines

This policy applies to all College employees, Board of Governors members, appointees, volunteers, and all consultants and contractors engaged by the College.


Word/Term Definition
Broader Public Sector (BPS) Organizations Broader Public Sector organizations include those organizations who receive government transfer payments to provide services to the public. These include: colleges, universities, school boards, hospitals, long-term care facilities, community care access centres and children's aid societies.
Hospitality The provision of food, beverage, accommodation, transportation and other amenities to people who are not engaged to work for the College, any other Broader Public Sector (BPS) organizations, or any of the other Ontario government ministries, agencies or public entities.
Meeting Expenses The provision of food, beverage, transportation, room rental and other related expenses to College employees, any other Broader Public Sector (BPS) organizations, or any of the other Ontario government ministries, agencies or public entities for business purposes.
Light Refreshments Includes beverages such as coffee, tea, bottled water, juice or soda, and food items such as fruit, cookies, pastries or snacks when not served as part of a meal.
Original, Itemized Receipt A document from the vendor itemizing the goods and/or services received, and the cost per unit of each good and/or service. A "tear-tag" showing the total charge is not considered a receipt. Credit card and charge slips are only considered a receipt if they provide the detailed itemization mentioned above.

Employee Reimbursement

All expenses incurred on College business must be authorized. Authority levels are outlined in Appendix 3: Accountability and Signing Authorities.

Employees seeking reimbursement for expenses must provide original, itemized receipts for all items being claimed.

Employees approving expense claims must ensure that the expenses being claimed are the result of approved College business and that all original, itemized documentation is present before providing an authorizing signature.

Employees cannot approve their own expenses. Approval at the next, higher level must be obtained before the claim can be processed.

In situations where expenses are incurred for a group of employees, only the most senior person present at the event may make a claim for the expenses. Hospitality is acceptable during meetings of Seneca employee's, as protocol dictates.

The College reserves the right to reject reimbursement claims that are more than 6 months old.


It is the policy of the College to pay legitimate travel expenses of persons travelling on College business. Travelling expenses are allowed for the employee only. Any share of expenses applicable to the employee's spouse or other relatives shall not be reimbursed.

The Travel and Advance Authority form (if required) must be completed and signed by the appropriate authorities before any expenses are incurred. All travel allowances as stipulated in this policy are in terms of Canadian or American currency.


Reasonable and appropriate meal expenses will be reimbursed. Employees attending business meetings or events at Seneca campuses other than their own may not claim for meals while at that campus. Detailed receipts are required and meal rate guidelines are as follows:

  • Breakfast – $10.00
  • Lunch – $15.00
  • Dinner – $25.00

Per Diem meal rates are not allowed under any circumstance.


Hospitality expenses are limited to the provision of food, beverage, accommodation, transportation and other amenities provided to people who are not engaged to work for the College, any other Broader Public Sector (BPS) organizations, or any of the other Ontario government ministries, agencies or public entities.

Hospitality may only be provided when it does not obligate, appear to obligate or inappropriately influence the recipient and is provided in support of the College's initiatives and goals.

Hospitality events should use College-owned facilities whenever available and appropriate.

Contractors and consultants are not eligible for hospitality expense reimbursement.


Alcohol can only be served at hospitality events when prior, written approval has been obtained from a member of Senior Executive Committee.

The serving of alcohol must be done in a responsible manner and food must also be served.

The department hosting the event is responsible for obtaining any required liquor licenses and complying with appropriate regulations and legislation.

Alcohol cannot be claimed as a meeting expense, or as part of travel meal expenses, unless part of hospitality, as defined.

Meeting Expenses

Meeting Expenses are allowed when the meeting is due to College business and the meeting is not a regularly scheduled departmental meeting. Other examples of meeting expenses include activities and events provided to College staff and/or other BPS employees who advance the College's strategic directions, or staff professional development events. Meeting expenses do not include office social events and staff holiday parties/lunches.

The College may also provide support, including meals and refreshments when hosting staff from other institutions, including BPS agencies and provincial ministries or agencies, during discussions or conferences on issues of mutual interest and/or cooperation  that seek to further either institutional or governmental objectives. Such expenses may be claimed as meeting expenses, provided approval is obtained from the appropriate Vice-President.

As an extension of hospitality (as defined), the President may also approve College-wide events for business purposes or where the event is considered desirable as a matter of protocol or courtesy, and alcohol may be served.

Meals served to employees as part of a meeting are only allowable in cases where the meeting falls over a regular meal period and the meeting could not be accommodated at any other time, or it is seen as an efficient use of the employees' time.  If an employee submits a claim for reimbursement of meeting expenses, original, itemized receipts must accompany the claim, as well as proof of the business nature of the meeting and a list of employees attending the meeting.

Light refreshments may be served at staff-only meetings where the meeting is in excess of 2 hours, or when the meeting involves non-staff members.

Gift Giving

Appropriate token gifts of appreciation may be offered in exchange for gifts of service or expertise to people who are not engaged in work for the College. Cash cannot be given as token gifts, and appropriate detailed receipts must accompany any claim for reimbursement.

Non-reimbursable Expenses

Certain expenses are considered to be personal in nature and not reimbursable by the College. Employees should claim as business travel expenses only those reasonable charges necessarily incurred to fulfill authorized business assignments of the College.

The following lists some of the items (not all inclusive) which the College will not allow employees to claim.

  • Purchases of any items for personal use.
  • Any and all fines incurred as a result of any criminal act or traffic violations of any nature whatsoever.
  • Fines resulting from border crossing violations.
  • Hotel room movie/game charges or in-room bar services.
  • Any additional/incremental costs incurred as a result of travelling with a spouse, partner, or friend. (e.g., the cost of a double room)
  • Credit card fees and interest charges.
  • Expenses incurred on behalf of other Seneca employees.
  • Club memberships for personal recreation or socializing purposes, such as fitness clubs, golf clubs and social clubs.
  • Professional advisory services for personal matters, such as tax or estate planning, unless pre-approved by a member of the Senior Executive Committee.

Benefits Accruing From Travel Inducements

Many airlines, hotels, car rental firms, credit card firms, etc. have programs which provide incentives such as "air miles", "prize points", "accumulating discounts" when buying or using their services. Due to the cost and complexity associated with reporting and quantifying the value of such credits and incentives, the College does not require formal reporting of these benefits.

The College does expect that employees will apply credits, air miles, points, etc. earned and accumulated as a result of travelling on College business against the purchase of future College travel expenses.

Canada Customs and Revenue Agency Interpretation Bulletin 470R states that, where an employee accumulates credits while travelling on employer paid business trips, and uses them to obtain air travel or other benefits for the personal use of the employee or the employee's family, the fair market value of such travel or other benefits must be included in the employee's income.

It is the College's position that the employee is responsible for quantifying and reporting the value of these benefits for income tax purposes.

Failure to adhere to policy

Should an employee fail to adhere to the Travel, Meals and Hospitality Policy, the supervisor of the employee will take appropriate corrective action. If necessary, written notification from Financial Services will be issued to the employee and his/her supervisor. Other actions may include the review of the employee's authorization to travel.

If an approver exercises discretion in making an exception to this policy, in order to ensure proper record keeping for audit purposes, written documentation detailing the exception must be made by the claimant and signed by both the approver and the appropriate Vice President, or President, as appropriate, and must accompany the claim.

Since expenses are subject to audit, ineligible expenses identified through audit shall be reimbursed to the College by the claimant.


Travel and Expense Policy

These are the steps to be followed before, during and after travel and for non-travel related expense reimbursement:

  Action Responsibility
1. Before Travel  
1.1 Travel and Advance Authority  
1.1.1 Ensure all necessary approvals have been completed prior to travel. Additional approvals may be required for out of province and/or out of country travel. See Appendix 3 for listing of required approvals for specific geographic regions. Employee Travelling
1.1.2 Cash advance requests must not exceed the estimated amount of the proposed travel being approved and will not be less than $200.00. All cash advances will be issued as a cheque in Canadian or American funds. Employee Travelling
1.1.3 If a cash advance is being requested, the approved form must be submitted to accounts payable a minimum of 5 working days before the advance is required in order to produce a cheque. Employee Travelling
1.1.4 A second cash advance will not be issued while any other travel advance for the same employee remains outstanding. Employee Travelling
1.2 Air/Train Travel Tickets  
1.2.1 Travel will normally be by the most economical class. Travel in business class (i.e. any form of travel other than economy) must be pre-approved by the President. Employee Travelling
1.2.2 All arrangements for air/train travel must be made directly with a TICO authorized travel agency. Employee Travelling
1.2.3 Travel arrangements may also be made by the employee, with his/her manager's approval. Employees are encouraged to use their Procurement Card to pay for tickets, but may use their own personal credit card and submit a travel expense claim for reimbursement. Employee Travelling
1.2.4 The airline/train ticket receipt (boarding pass) must be included in the Travel Expense Claim submission. Employee Travelling
1.3 Travel by Vehicle  
1.3.1 Employees are encouraged to rent a vehicle under the College's name rather than use their own vehicle when travelling on out of town trips. A general rule of thumb is to rent a vehicle if travelling more than 200 kilometres. Employee Travelling
1.3.2 Employees travelling together or to the same destination will share automobiles where practical. Employee Travelling
1.3.3 When renting a vehicle for College business travel, employees must ensure that they rent the vehicle under the name, "Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology" and not the employee's name. This ensures that the College's commercial insurance policy provides coverage. Employee Travelling
1.3.4 No vehicle rental insurance should be purchased from the vehicle rental agency when travelling on College business within Ontario.  For vehicle rental outside of the Province of Ontario, rental insurance is required. Employee Travelling
1.4 Travel Insurance  
1.4.1 The College's extended health care plan provides limited out of country coverage for hospital and medical expenses.  Employees travelling outside of Canada on College business are strongly encouraged to purchase additional out of country health insurance.  The College will reimburse the cost of the premiums for such coverage if supported by appropriate receipts and with prior approval.   Employee Travelling
1.4.2 Trip cancellation insurance may be purchased by the employee based on the business needs of the employee. Employee Travelling
1.5 Accommodation  
1.5.1 Accommodation will be economical (Government or Corporate rate where available). Employee Travelling
1.5.2 Accommodation arrangements should be made through a TICO authorized travel agent or directly with the hotel. Employee Travelling
1.5.3 Hotel guarantees will be billed to the College's corporate credit card, or to the traveller's personal credit card. Employee Travelling
1.5.4 Non-College employees travelling on College business should be provided with a letter indicating that they are travelling on College business and are entitled to receive the Government or Corporate rate where available. Travel Approver
1.5.5 Private accommodation with relatives or friends may be arranged. An allowance of $25.00 per night may be claimed in lieu of a charge for commercial accommodations, provided the funds are used for a gift, or token of gratitude for your host. Instead of a receipt, you must submit a written explanation describing the purpose of your trip, identifying the host and the number of days you stayed. Employee Travelling
1.5.6 Hotel Internet charges may be reimbursed when the Internet is used for business purposes. Travel Approver
2. During Travel  
2.1 Meals  
2.1.1 Meals taken during travel will be reimbursed to the total value of itemized receipts submitted. All claims for meals must be accompanied by an original, itemized receipt. Only meals taken and supported by an original, itemized receipt will be reimbursed. Where meals are included in a hotel accommodation invoice, the employee must include the restaurant's detailed receipt to support the charge on the hotel invoice. Employee Travelling
2.1.2 Where meals are included in the transportation fare, or in the cost of registration fees, no claim for meals may be made. Employee Travelling
2.2 Incidental Expenses  
2.2.1 For each full day of travel, an employee may claim up to $5.00 for incidental expenses such as gratuities, laundry, dry cleaning, etc., supported where possible with an original, itemized receipt Employee Travelling
2.3 Telephone  
2.3.1 Long distance phone calls should be of a reasonable duration and frequency and kept to a minimum. Employee Travelling
3. International Travel  
3.1 Claims for expenditures in foreign currency are to be reported in the local currency and converted to Canadian or American dollars. Exchange rates are available on the Bank of Canada web-site. Expenditures made by credit card will be converted on the credit card statement. For travel outside Canada and the United States, the actual cost of meals and incidentals shall be claimed. Such claims must be substantiated, where possible, by receipts and shall not be unreasonable. Employee Travelling
4. Hospitality While Travelling  
  4.1 It is recognized that at times it is necessary to entertain clients. Employees are expected to apply a common sense approach, with a view to minimizing these expenditures. Supporting documentation is required for employee reimbursement. Employee Travelling
  4.2 Hospitality cannot be claimed for consultants, contractors or other Broader Public Service employees. Employee Travelling
5. After Travel  
5.1 Travel Expense Claim Form  
5.1.1 Complete the Travel Expense Claim Form for reimbursement of allowable expenses. This form must be completed if expenses are being claimed, or if a travel advance was issued to the employee. Employee Travelling
5.1.2 The Travel Expense Claim form must be submitted within 15 working days of the completion of the trip. Employee Travelling
5.1.3 Original, itemized receipts (including Boarding Passes) for all expenses being claimed must be submitted with the Travel Expense Claim Form. Employee Travelling
5.1.4 The Travel Expense Claim must be approved according to the Signing Authority Chart in Appendix 3, prior to submission to Finance for payment. Employee Travelling
5.1.5 Approvers of Travel Expense Claims must ensure that claims are for legitimate business expenses only and are in compliance with this policy, including all required documentation to support the claim (original, itemized receipts). Travel Approver
5.1.6 An employee cannot approve his/her own expense claim. The employee must obtain approval from the next, higher level of signing authority, as outlined in the Signing Authority in Appendix 4. Employee Travelling
6 Travel Advance Overpayment  
Any cash advance overpayments are considered a debt owing to the College. Employees are required to deposit all un-used cash advance funds at a college cash office. Employees are required to attach the cash office receipt, showing a deposit was made, with the expense report form. Employee Travelling

Supporting Documentation

  • Appendix 1 - Travel and Expense Claim Summary
  • Appendix 2 - Kilometrage Reimbursement Rates
  • Appendix 3 - Chart of Accountability and Signing Authorities

Related Policies

Purchasing Policies and Procedures Manual

Related Materials

Broader Public Service Expenses Directive:

Broader Public Service Procurement Directive:

Appendix 1

Travel and Expense Policy

Travel And Expense Claim Summary

Before Travel

Appropriate approval (Appendix 3) should be obtained prior to making travel arrangements. When a cash advance is being requested, the Cash Advance form should be forwarded to Finance a minimum of 5 working days in advance of the travel date. Cash advances can be requested in either Canadian or US funds. A copy of the approval to travel document must be provided before a cash advance is issued.

Travel arrangements may be booked directly by the employee, using a College corporate card or personal credit card. Appropriate health insurance should be purchased for out-of-country travel.

During Travel

Retain ALL original, itemized receipts for expenses incurred. These receipts must accompany all claims.

Meal Reimbursement:
Original detail receipts are required. Payment of gratuity can be supported with a credit card slip.
Receipts are required for accommodation.
Vehicle Rentals:
Receipts are required for vehicle rentals.
Receipts are required for parking.
If a receipt is lost or a detailed receipt is not provided, the employee must complete a "missing receipt" form, obtain the approval of his/her immediate supervisor, and include the approved form with the expense report. (
To support the payment of gratuity, the submission of a credit slip (attached to the detailed receipt) will be accepted. If no credit slip is available, an approved missing receipt form will be accepted. The maximum allowable is 15% of the total cost of the meal.

If a personal vehicle is used for business travel, record the actual kilometres driven. Kilometre reimbursement rates are provided in Appendix 2.

After Travel

Submission of expense reports should be submitted within 15 days of completion of travel.

Travel Claims - The form must be properly completed, signed by the claimant, approved by the proper signing authority, and have all original itemized receipts and a copy of the approval to travel document attached before forwarding to Finance.

When reconciling a cash advance on the expense report form, all transactions must be reported in the currency of the cash advance. All monies owing to the employee will be reimbursed in the currency requested. If the expenses are foreign currencies and there is no cash advance, the reconciliation must be done in either Canadian or US funds. Employees are required to provide documents to support conversion rates.

Appendix 2

Travel and Expense Policy

Kilometrage Reimbursement Rates*


Kilometres Driven** Southern Ontario (cents per km) Northern Ontario (cents per km)
0 – 4,000 km 40.0 41.0
4,001 – 10,700 km 35.0 36.0
10,701 – 24,000 km 29.0 30.0
More than 24,000 km 24.0 25.0

*As per Memo issued from the College Compensation and Appointments Council, August 16, 2006.
**Employees must track their cumulative kilometres driven per year, and use the appropriate rate on each claim.

Use of 407 highway

Request for reimbursement where employee HAS a transponder

  • Reimburse per km cost of travel on 407, with destination and purpose of travel provided on expense report.

Request for reimbursement where employee DOES NOT have a transponder and 100% Seneca-related travel

  • Reimburse per km cost of travel on 407
  • Reimburse video toll fee per trip
  • Reimburse account admin. fee (flat rate per month)

Request for reimbursement where employee DOES NOT have a transponder and LESS THAN 100% Seneca related travel

  • Reimburse per km cost of travel on 407
  • Reimburse video toll fee per trip
  • NO reimbursement of account admin. fee (flat rate per month)

Appendix 3

Travel and Expense Policy

Accountability and Signing Authorities

  President Vice-President Dean/Director Manager/Chair Other Employee
Authority to travel within Ontario (excluding Greater Toronto Area) N/A Supervisor approval (i.e. President) Supervisor approval Supervisor approval Supervisor approval
Authority to travel outside Ontario, but within North America N/A Supervisor approval (i.e. President) Vice-President approval Supervisor  and Vice-President approvals Supervisor  and Vice-President approvals
Authority to travel outside of North America Requires Chair of the Board of Governors approval Supervisor approval (i.e. President) Vice-President and President approvals Supervisor, Vice-President and President approvals Supervisor Vice- President and President approvals
Authorization to serve alcohol at hospitality events and approve claims for alcohol President authorization and approval required President authorization and approval required. SEC member authorization and approval required. SEC member authorization and approval required. SEC Member author-ization and approval required.
  President Vice-President Dean/ Director Manager/ Chair Other Employee
Travel funds advance No limit Estimated claim up to $99,999 Estimated claim up to $24,999 Estimated claim up to $5,000 N/A
Travel expense claim No limit $99,999 $24,999 $5,000 N/A