4. General Procedures

See also:

4.2 Expenses procedures

(a) The expenses claim form

Expenses incurred by individuals on behalf of the University must be recorded in detail on the Expenses Claim Form (310kb). Completed forms must be authorized and then submitted to the Payments Team in the Finance Division for payment.

The Payments Team will accept original documents and signatures. Faxes, emails and electronic forms will not usually be accepted, although in exceptional circumstance they may be with the prior agreement of the Head of Payment Services.

In exceptional circumstances, where an original claim form has been lost but a photocopy exists, the Payments Team will accept the copy for payment as long as an authorized signatory adds a new, original signature to the copy, dates it, and provides an explanation for presentation of a copy claim.

Receipts can only be accepted if they are original documents.

Expense Claim Forms must NOT be input to Oracle within departments.

For more detail, see Pay expenses.

Note: Claims made against research awards must also comply with any additional terms and conditions made by the funding body.

(b) Receipts

All claims should be supported by receipts or equivalent proof of purchase. This is a basic accounting and tax requirement, and claims that are not supported by receipts may have to be treated as taxable payments or refused. Many research funders also require full documentary evidence of expenditure incurred.

Claimants are advised to request detailed receipts as proof of purchase and to attach these in support of any claim made. Where, in exceptional circumstances, this is not possible a full explanation should be provided together with any other supporting documentation. Claims submitted without receipts or reasonable explanation will only be paid at the discretion of the Head of Payment Services.

Credit Card receipts or copies of credit card/bank statements are NOT valid receipts for these purposes. Written or printed receipts providing evidence that specific goods or services have been received and paid for are considered valid for this purpose.

Where expenses are shared, e.g. in the case of meals, and where receipts or copy receipts are unavailable, reimbursement may be made as long as the nature and circumstances of the expense incurred are clearly stated.

(c) Submission of claims

Generally, claims should be made within two months of the expense being incurred or, in the event of foreign travel, two months of the date of return to the UK.

It is a facet of good financial control that claims are submitted as close as possible to the time that the original expense was incurred. It is also in the interests of claimants to ensure that they do not remain out of pocket for longer than is necessary.

Claims up to 12 months old (from the date of the original expenditure occurring) will be honoured as long as all of the conditions detailed in section (d) below are met.

Claims over 12 months old will not be paid unless there are exceptional circumstances to explain the delay. Such claims must be submitted in the first instance to the Head of Payment Services together with a full supporting explanation. Lack of organization, forgetfulness, or non-awareness of the rules within this document will not be accepted as valid reasons for delay. In cases of dispute the Director of Finance will make the final decision on whether a claim will be paid or not.

Incomplete, incorrect or invalid late claims will not be processed but referred to the authorizing signatory with an explanation of why it cannot be processed. Valid claims will need to be corrected and re-submitted to the Finance Division for consideration.

Authorized claims that are accepted for processing by the Finance Division will not be returned to the claimant or department.

(d) Authorization of expense claims

Expense Claim Forms must be signed by the claimant and at least one authorized signatory. Specific arrangements will depend upon departments' delegated authorities. The Payments Team maintains a register of authorized signatories for each department and it is the responsibility of the Head of Department to ensure that procedures are in place to notify the Payments Team immediately of any change in authorized personnel or their authority limits.

Note: This is a separate register and requirement from that used to authorize Payroll.

Some departments require claims - particularly relating to research projects - to be counter-signed by a supervisor in addition to an authorized signatory. This is a matter of departmental practice and there is no requirement to notify the Finance Division of supervisors.

Under no circumstances will self-authorized claims be paid, nor those authorized by a close relative or member of staff junior to the claimant (except as specified in section 4.5).

Any amendments made to Claim Forms must be initialled by the individual authorizing the claim.

In signing an Expense Claim Form, or other documentation in support of a claim, all signatories are verifying that the following conditions are met:

Conditions for honouring an expense claim:
  • the claim is in respect of bona fide business expenses, incurred on behalf of the University, and conforms to University rules on expense claims;
  • the claim is completed accurately, mathematically correct and supported by the necessary receipts or other documentation;
  • the specific items to which the claim relates have not been previously reimbursed or paid for by the University or another third party;
  • the specific items to which the claim relates are not subject to a duplicate claim or payment currently in progress with the University or another third party;
  • that, specifically in the case of claims against research funding, the expense does not contravene any funding rules imposed by sponsors.

In addition, the authorizing signatory is also confirming:

  • the general ledger or grant code(s) specified are valid and contain sufficient funding to cover the claim;
  • that the expense can be justified in terms of the University's Value for Money policy.

Any attempt to submit a deliberately false or duplicate claim will be treated as a serious disciplinary offence.

(e) Missing signatories

Where an Expenses Claim Form is submitted without the claimant's signature in the correct field on that form, the claim will still be processed as long as all of the following conditions are met:

Conditions for honouring claims with missing claimant signatures:
  • the claim is being made by an individual who is not a member of the University and is not resident in Oxford at the time of the claim, there is attached documentation, signed by the claimant, that clearly ties the individual to the claim being made and includes name, address and payment details corresponding with those on the Expenses Claim Form;
  • the claim relates to a member of the University who is working overseas for a continuous period of more than 1 month. In these cases the claimant must provide a written declaration reference to the particular claim which contains the wording "I can confirm that the claim for reimbursement of £00.00 whilst on University business for the period (date range) is in respect of bona fide business expenses, incurred wholly, exclusively and necessarily on behalf of the University";
  • original receipts are provided; and
  • all other conditions for honouring a claim, as specified in section (d) above, are met.

It should be noted that these arrangements are for dealing with exceptions rather than frequent occurrences. Claims may be refused, therefore, if, in the opinion of the Payments Team Manager, these provisions are being abused.

(f) Taxable Items

Where claims include elements that HMRC deem to be taxable, it will be necessary to refer these claims to the Payroll team so they can record the details for submission to HMRC at a later date. THis may often result in a delay to the approved claims being processed, although every effort is made to return these claims to the Payments team for processing within the timescales for standard expense claims.