Benefit Plan Policies: Travel and Expense Reimbursement Policy

Larry Beebe, CPA

In this series, we are reviewing the written plan policies needed to help your benefit plan stay compliant and operate most effectively. For a full list of the necessary policies and why your plan should implement them, click here.

Any employee benefit plan that reimburses trustees and/ or plan employees for travel expenses and/or for educational programs attended should have a travel and expense reimbursement policy.

In the fast changing world of employee benefits, education of plan trustees, administrators and plan employees is essential. The educational programs offered by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans provide the essential background needed to manage an employee benefit plan. If education is an essential part of your employee benefit plan, your travel and expense reimbursement policy should include the following components.

  • A description of permitted educational programs and a limit of how many can be attended per person in a given year.
  • A description of the process required to obtain approval to attend a specific educational program.
  • How and when advances can be obtained to attend and educational program.
  • A statement that reimbursement for educational programs can only be obtained if the required number of classes is attended to receive a certificate of attendance (if one is issued)
  • Some education policies required oral and/or written reports written by anyone attending an educational conference.

For both educational programs and other reimbursable travel the policy should also include:

  • Limits on transportation costs, lodging, meals, and other allowed expenses
  • A list of unallowed expenses. These would include personal expenses and entertainment expenses.
  • A requirement that a travel expense report must be submitted within a reasonable period after the travel has been completed.
  • A statement that recipients should be attached for all expenditures over $25.
  • A statement that trustees expense reimbursement is limited to only direct, reasonable expenses that are properly and actually incurred. Per diem is permitted for plan employees but not for plan trustees.
  • A statement that no expenses will be reimbursed if it is reimbursable by another party.

For additional information on employee benefit plan policies, please see the Trustee Handbook published by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans.

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