How to create a T&E policy for your company's business travel
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Travel and expenses (T&E) are one of the largest expense categories for many businesses. To keep spending in check, every company should create a corporate travel policy that defines which travel costs will be reimbursed.
In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about T&E policies, what to include in your T&E policy, and some advice for handling your company’s travel management and expense reimbursement.
What is T&E?
T&E is an acronym for "travel and expenses," though it’s also known as "travel and entertainment." It encompasses the costs employees bear while on business trips or when entertaining clients, including travel bookings, rental cars, and other miscellaneous expenses for business purposes.
What is a T&E policy?
A travel and expense (T&E) policy is a set of guidelines provided by a company to its employees, outlining the types of travel-related expenses that can be reimbursed and the procedures for reporting and approval.
It specifies allowable expenses, spending limits, approval processes, and reimbursement procedures, so that employees know what kind of expenses will and will not be reimbursed. A well-planned T&E policy maintains financial transparency throughout your company.
What is a per-diem policy?
Similarly, a per-diem policy is a type of travel expense policy where employees are given a fixed amount of money per day to cover daily living expenses while traveling for work. This amount is meant to cover costs like meals, lodging, and incidental expenses.
Sometimes businesses choose a per-diem policy to eliminate the need for reimbursement processes. To make sure your employees’ per-diem expenses are still tax-deductible, however, you’ll have to follow the IRS’s guidelines for creating an accountable per-diem plan.
What to include in your T&E policy
Your T&E policy should outline which expenses are and are not reimbursable when employees work outside the office. This includes business trips as well as any work-related meetings or client meals in your own area. Expenses for remote work, however, belong on a separate document.
Here are the three main sections that you should cover in your company’s travel policy:
Identify and define the different categories of reimbursable expenses. Common categories include transportation, accommodation, meals, and entertainment. By separating your T&E expenditure into categories—such as accommodation, food, air travel, and per diems—you can make it easier to track and record expenses later on.
Try to be specific about what types of expenses are allowed to prevent overspending and offer clarity to your employees.
Detail the approval process for submitting expenses for reimbursement, including the forms to be used and the supporting documentation required, such as receipts and invoices. An automated approval process via expense management software can help you track submissions and approvals efficiently.
Specify the timeframe within which reimbursements will be processed and how employees will be paid out, whether by card, check, or cash. This will help set clear expectations and ensure timely payments to your team.
You can use Ramp’s expense policy template to generate your own T&E policy.
T&E policy best practices
A good T&E policy should include specific guidelines about allowable expenses, be clearly understandable to your employees, and maintain compliance with the IRS guidelines. Let’s go over some best practices to help you craft a comprehensive T&E policy:
1. Consult with company leaders
The first step in creating your T&E policy should involve internal research. Finance teams should carefully review the most relevant company policies regarding employee reimbursement and consider how their new T&E policy will fit within those guidelines. They should also discuss the proposed policy with different departments, like human resources, legal or compliance teams, to make sure they're all on board before making any major changes.
2. Benchmark T&E costs
Finance teams should also benchmark T&E costs in your business’s location to get a sense of expected and reasonable spending across different expense categories. This could involve looking up current flight prices, setting an average meal cost, and gathering data on industry standards regarding T&E spending.
3. Optimize for tax deductions
Your policy should follow the IRS guidelines for travel-related business expenses to make sure that your employees’ expenses will be tax-deductible. Knowing which expenses are deductible and what kind of documentation the IRS requires will help save your business money come tax season. You can refer to the chart on the IRS’s website that outlines which expenses you can deduct.
Tips for implementing your T&E policy
Once you’ve designed your T&E policy, you’ll want to launch and start implementing it across your company. Here’s some advice for making sure the implementation goes as smoothly as possible.
Create a communication plan
You’ll need to communicate your new policy to employees through management announcements and any internal company channels like email or Slack. Team managers should also be brought into the process here, highlighting any policy changes and bringing awareness to employees.
Seek employee feedback early
Early on, expect to do a lot of debriefing on how the new policy is viewed and used by your employees across the company. By gathering feedback from your team, you can make sure that procedures are being followed and identify ways that they can be improved.
Introduce company cards
Implementing company cards at the same time as your new expense policy can be a great way to simplify things for your team. Giving your employees corporate cards offers you complete control over spending and category limits. That way, only approved transactions can be made in the first place.
Track your T&E trends
After your policy has been in place for some time, you can begin to analyze the data around your company’s T&E spending. Expense management software can track your T&E spending in real time while also offering financial insights like industry standards for certain expenses and recommendations for where you can cut costs.
Streamline your T&E expenses with Ramp
Ramp’s corporate cards and expense management platform can streamline how you implement your expense policies and manage the reimbursement process.
With Ramp, you can:
- Create a travel card program with built-in spending controls and accounting rules
- Empower employees to book travel anywhere with their own Ramp card
- Get real-time alerts on out-of-policy spending as it happens
- Automate employee expense reporting with powerful receipt integrations
- Provide duty of care with real-time visibility into trips for every employee
Learn more about how Ramp can simplify your business travel expenses.