Jennifer Smith (Solicitor There was public outrage when the MPs expense scandal hit the news earlier this year, and MPs have now been subject to a retrospective expenses audit.According to reports, many MPs are furious that they are being forced to pay back expenses claimed as far back as 2004.Furthermore, Conservative leader David Cameron commented that if his MPs do not pay back money at the end of the expenses review, they will not be able to stand again for the Party.
The scandal offers a timely reminder to employers to ensure that they have in place robust policies and procedures where expenses are concerned. A question a lot of people are wondering is – could a private sector employer demand that an employee pay back expenses?
The answer is almost certainly no, provided that the employee has submitted a genuine expenses claim, in accordance to the employer’s expenses policy.
What should an employer do?
Employers must have a clear understanding of the precise terms and conditions of their company’s expenses policy to avoid a similar situation occurring. It is absolutely necessary that an expenses policy is well established and clearly communicated to all employees.
A well drafted expenses policy will:
clearly explain what is reasonable in various circumstances make it clear to employees if they are allowed to travel business class or economy class?;
set out fixed amounts which can be claimed e.g. mileage and hotels;
explain the process for gaining approval and reimbursement of expenses so that there is no uncertainty.
Please contact Jennifer Smith if you have an employment related matter on 0161 615 0656.