Finance

Expenses FAQs - Travel and accommodation expenses

FAQs

What changes have been made in relation to travel expenses?

There is limited change to the requirement to use Key Travel.

 You can book you own travel and claim it back on expenses if the entire trip less than £300. If it’s going to be more expensive than £300, you are strongly advised to use the University’s official travel agent, Key Travel. More information can be found here.

From December 2017, Key Travel performance is being monitored more closely wih monthly performance reports shared with University commitees.

 

Standard and non-standard travel

We’ve provided more clarity around travel and the different fares allowed. There is more flexibility within the revised policy to allow staff with a disability, impairment and/or other health related issues to access non-standard fares as appropriate.

The rules around use of first class rail travel has been updated in the new policy. First class fares can be purchased if you plan to work for the duration of the journey or if you have a disability, impairment and other health related reason. There is no longer a minimum time limit for your first-class journey.

 

First class air travel is never permitted under any circumstances.

Business class for longer flights is now subject to line manager/budget holder approval. It should be considered if there is a need to be able to work immediately after the flight and no other cost-effective alternative is available.

 

Does Key Travel have to be used for all travel and accommodation booking?

You can book you own travel and claim it back on expenses if the entire trip less than £300. If it’s going to be more expensive than £300, you are strongly advised to use the University’s official travel agent, Key Travel. More information can be found here.

From December 2017, Key Travel performance is being monitored more closely wih monthly performance reports shared with University commitees.

 

Using Key Travel for bookings over £300

To note, Central Management Group have approved this policy with the exceptions of clauses 5.4 and 6.1 which will not apply until later in 2018. Until then, staff are strongly advised to use the University’s nominated Travel Management Service, Key Travel, when booking trips and/or accommodation over £300. For the avoidance of doubt, this is not compulsory.

 

What if I’m travelling from home to a temporary workplace other than University premises?

We will reimburse the costs of necessary travel on University business between one University workplace and another temporary place of work for meetings or other purposes (on University or other premises). We won’t reimburse the costs of ordinary commuting or private travel.

 

Pre-approval for all travel is too onerous. Some travel is at very short notice.

Only overseas travel must be pre-approved, not UK travel. Also, travel funded by research grants does not require pre-approval.

 

Can staff book a sleeper train?

Yes, a sleeper is also permitted for overnight travel.

 

Can staff claim cycle rates?

Yes. Approved mileage rates for cars, motor cycles and bicycles, for expense claims can be found at the HMRC website.

 

Can visa costs be claimed?

Yes, travel visas will be reimbursed. However please note that passport costs will not be reimbursed. The University will reimburse claimants for costs associated with vaccinations and other necessary medical requirements for overseas University travel. The University’s Occupational Health Unit offers a range of vaccines that are charged to Schools or Planning Units through internal charging.

 

Insurance and risk policy – do I need a risk assessment?

A travel risk assessment may be required before overseas travel is undertaken.  A risk assessment must be completed before any trip is undertaken with students. The Insurance Office will advise you if a risk assessment is required. The assessment is completed in consultation with the Insurance Office (insurance@ed.ac.uk or +44 (0)131 650 9154). 

 

Insurance and risk policy – do I need insurance?

The University has a travel insurance policy for employees and students who are required to travel for University purposes. Cover is free to applicants with the exception of some high-risk destinations which may require a fee payable by the budget holder.  Cover is not automatic and must be arranged with the Insurance Office for all foreign travel by applying online. If travel within the UK involves a trip by air or an overnight stay, the University’s travel insurance cover is recommended.

 The mileage allowance in section 10 of the policy covers insurance costs of adding business cover to personal motor insurance policies. Here’s the guidance on private vehicle use and vehicle hire.

 

Can I use Airbnb?

Yes. Please note that:

  • Airbnb is not regulated and may fail to meet basic safety standards such as smoke detection, electrical testing, extinguishers and fire escape.
  • Airbnb is highly unlikely to share traveller information with the University in the event of an emergency.
  • Airbnb hosts sometimes cancel at the last minute for various reasons and our own insurance will not cover any direct or indirect costs associated with that. Airbnb hosts may have no insurance and their normal domestic insurance is may not cover them for letting rooms.
  • Airbnb hosts may trade illegally if the host city, for instance, does not permit short-term room rentals. The accommodation may be an unused back bedroom in a stranger’s house. The accommodation will often be less secure than a hotel, with no CCTV, key control, robust door locks, swipe access or room safe. Travellers should wherever possible favour accommodation where it has smoke detection and good locks / security.
  • Airbnb bookings may be illegal if the country / region / city / building does not permit short-term room rentals, or if the host has not complied with local regulations but nonetheless advertises the property on the platform regardless.

In order to avoid some of these problems, travellers can use the Airbnb platform ONLY where:

  • You can identify that the country / city / region / building permits short-term lets and the property complies with local regulations, so the booking is legal.
  • There is a reasonably full history of positive reviews (this is common sense for anyone booking any accommodation).
  • The accommodation is a self-contained apartment (so you aren’t staying in a stranger’s back bedroom or similar).
  • You can identify the neighbourhood as safe (again, it is common sense to check).
  • You don’t rely only on the Airbnb bookings calendar, but also email the host directly, as some hosts are not assiduous about updating calendars.
  • You leave full contact details in your travel plan including location of the apartment and owner contact details.

 

The Finance Department have a dedicated team to answer your questions on this policy change.

Tel: 0131 651 4581Email: first.finance@ed.ac.uk