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Expense Reimbursement Wait Times

What is a reasonable time frame for an employer to reimburse expenses?  We are required to submit expenses within 24 hours of trip completion, but I have been waiting over 30 days for payment

Company is over 1,000 employees.

Answers

Ken Stumder
Title: Finance Director / Controller
Company: Ken Stumder, CPA
(Finance Director / Controller, Ken Stumder, CPA) |

Waiting over 30 days for an expense report reimbursement is well outside the range of an acceptable time period.

It can vary depending on whether expenses get deposited alongside payroll or are treated like A/P. Even in A/P cases, most companies will pay on something resembling the payroll cycle at a *minimum* (bi-weekly or semi-monthly here in the US). More common is batch processing with weekly A/P.

I sure hope your trip was not costly but even if it was not you should escalate this to financial management.

Topic Expert
John Kogan
Title: CEO/CFO
Company: Proformative, Inc.
(CEO/CFO, Proformative, Inc.) |

Very next pay period, so long as you put your expenses in and they were approved at least 4 days prior to the payroll run is what they should strive for. That typically means 5-20 days after the expenses were approved they would hit your account.

Certainly make sure the expenses were approved by your manager (or whomever signs off) before calling out the payroll group. A company should never try to make money off the float of reimbursements to employees. However, if this happens frequently the culprit could well be terrible T&E systems or T&E to payroll integration. But a company of that size should have this nailed down.

EMERSON GALFO
Title: CFO
Company: C-Suite Services
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, C-Suite Services) |

I believe that we have to reexamine our views/concepts on "reimbursements" and T&E expenses.

I have always argued that reimbursements should be EXCEPTIONS and NOT the norm/policy. We have to bear in mind that these are expenses that the company should have incurred at the time of the expense...and using the employee's funds is an accommodation by the employee to the company. It is NOT incumbent for an employee to advance money for the company. A case of an accommodation that became the norm. Heck, I would even advocate for a Thank You note for every reimbursement to the employee.

When we change our paradigms on these items, our policies/procedures will follow.

Anonymous
(Controller) |

I agree with the other answers that your reimbursement should have been paid in a timely fashion. In your specific case, you should ask why the reimbursement is taking so long. In a company of over 1000 employees there are many glitches that can occur in the system. Check and make sure your reimbursement is in process and ask when you can expect to receive the funds. Sometimes you have not because you ask not.

Len Green
Title: Performance Improvement Consultant and E..
Company: Haygarth Consulting LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Performance Improvement Consultant and ERP Strategist, Haygarth Consulting LLC) |

Provided the employee has submitted expenses and receipts on time and accurately, the reimbursement MUST take place before the employee needs to settle the company charges on his/her personal credit card.
If you believe you did comply, then maybe ask for a cash advance to cover your personal card payment by due date...that might prompt someone to ask why are you asking?
Weird anyway...

EMERSON GALFO
Title: CFO
Company: C-Suite Services
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, C-Suite Services) |

I was thinking earlier prior to my initial response to send the company an invoice for interest. That should get their attention.

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
Company: SBAConsulting.com
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, SBAConsulting.com) |

Did you enquire in the first place (things do get lost)

Shalabh Raizada
Title: Head - Special Projects
Company: Jubilee Insurance
(Head - Special Projects, Jubilee Insurance) |

I think expenses incurred in a 'financial month' should be processed before the 'closure' of that month. And a closure of a financial month should be within 7 calendar days of the subsequent month. Views ?

Clarity G
Title: Fin/Management Accountant
Company: Australian Government
LinkedIn Profile
(Fin/Management Accountant, Australian Government) |

I agree with others that payment should not be delayed. Emerson’s suggestions are excellent and benchmark as the best practice. From my experience in private and public sector, most organisations use 30 days policy as a standard invoice payment policy, unless there is a contract in place that specifies shorter period of invoice payments. While it is not a good practice that employees or contractors are paying upfront from their pockets for company/organisation's work and waiting for the reimbursement, it is worth checking the policies of the organisation (if the reimbursement request is from employees) and contract (if the contractor/contractor company is asking for expenses incurred while working on a project for the company/organisation). Apart from that there are other technical hurdles such as approval for payment, company/organisation's payment run days that are fortnightly or monthly, whether company can do exception payment and what is the minimum payment requirement for a company to do exception payment (some large company might consider payments under certain amount will not be done as exception payment), whether the approval was sought prior to commencing the work/travel etc.

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
Company: SBAConsulting.com
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, SBAConsulting.com) |

I'm an officer and board member for a small non-profit (The Association for Rescue at Sea - AFRAS.org). I need to take a business trip on their behalf at the end of August. I purchased my flights, etc and the charges hit my credit card cycle that ended Saturday.

I sent our Treasurer a partial expense report (for those items) on Saturday, and she asked can she cut the check on Monday to await approval time for the President to "ok" my expenses, which is proper. That approval came within an hour (it's great everyone checks their email on a Saturday morning).

Now that is efficiency all businesses should strive for, and while a one day turnaround is great, a 1 business week turnaround would have been fine.

Anonymous
(Tour Director) |

Thank you everyone for your advice. I have asked management for the reasons behind the delay and no one can offer a definitive reason other than there was a new A/P person that started a month ago. (Yes I have copies of everything in case they got lost). Just tired of being told to be patient ! I like the idea of asking to be reimbursed for credit card fees. I'm now out over $2500 of my own money (after the advance).

Topic Expert
Scott MacDonald
Title: President/Owner
Company: AlphaMac Resources, Inc.
(President/Owner, AlphaMac Resources, Inc.) |

A reasonable time frame is 1 week. Anything beyond that indicates either disorganization in the accounting department or cash flow problems in the company.

If their delay causes you finance charges on your credit card, you should be reimbursed for those as well.

Your manager should be getting involved in this as well, as he/she is supposed to look out for you when company behavior puts you at a disadvantage.

Diana McDonough
Title: Founder and President
Company: BridgeView CFO Solutions, LLC
(Founder and President, BridgeView CFO Solutions, LLC) |

Emerson's comments are understandable but let me highlight a few things to keep in mind:
-Unless employees are looking for a reimbursement they often "forget" to keep or submit backup receipts with business purposes explanations. When company credit cards are used some people abdicate this responsibility completely.
-We recommend employees use a personal card for air and hotel since some companies require the card that was used to make the reservation at check in or for changes.

We agree employees should not have to lend the company money or have their own resources limited and for this reason we strive for a quick turn and reimburse employees weekly as part of the regular A/P cycle. We can process in 24 - 48 hours if there is an urgent need.

EMERSON GALFO
Title: CFO
Company: C-Suite Services
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, C-Suite Services) |

As a P.S.,

I am not against employees using their resources, I am saying companies should consider PAYING for the use of personal resources (card rewards going to the employee notwithstanding ..and we do it for almost all other types anyways) and as I said, the important point is that the decision is with the employee NOT because of some company policy. You can't borrow someone else's property/resources because it is company policy.

Let me also point out that the company is using the employee resources FOR ITS CONVENIENCE of NOT having the personnel/time (or paying a travel service) to do all the bookings, changes, etc. I do NOT buy the airlines/hotels need the traveller credit card reasoning....because really they do NOT. All the traveller needs is an ID.

It does not really matter whether we pay (reimburse) it 2 hours after or a week after.

Ooops, this should have come after my response below. sorry.

EMERSON GALFO
Title: CFO
Company: C-Suite Services
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, C-Suite Services) |

Diana. my point was... a lot of companies make policies that make it seem incumbent for the employee to advance the resources. i agree that some compromises need to be arrived at. However. I still argue that the decision (use of employee resources) is with the employee and not the company. If the employee opts out. the company needs to find other ways to give the employee the resources he/she needs.
.

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