Summary of Travel & Business Expense Policy & Philosophy

Williams College’s policy is to reimburse employees for ordinary and necessary travel and entertainment expenses incurred while on authorized College business travel. These include costs for transportation, lodging, meals and communications.  Regardless of the method of payment (cash, check, credit card), all travel and business expenses are reviewed by the Controller’s Office as part of the accounts payable process.

The College’s policy requires Supervisor approval for travel and business expenses evidenced by signature approval on travel vouchers, and Bank of America Purchasing Card reconciliations.   A Senior Staff member must approve Department Head travel expenses.

Faculty travel funded by department money must be approved by the Department Chair.  Faculty travel using grant or other individual research funds (including divisional faculty development funds) may be submitted with the principal investigator/professor signature only.

The intent of the travel policy is to reimburse employees for out-of-pocket expenses incurred while on College business that would not otherwise be incurred.  Out-of-pocket expenses will be reimbursed at the conclusion of the trip.   Expenses that are of a personal nature, or expenses that would be incurred whether or not the employee was on College business, are not eligible for reimbursement.  The College requires employees to provide receipts, and document the business purpose of each expense in accordance with the following guidelines and the regulations of the United States Internal Revenue Service.  In addition, if federal grant funding is used, employees must adhere to all regulations as outlined in the grant.

Employees are expected to adhere to the laws in effect for the state or country to which they are traveling.  The College requires that employees on College business wear seat belts.  The College discourages the use of cell phones while driving.  In an emergency, if an employee must use a cell phone while driving appropriate hands free equipment must be used.   Fees or fines incurred due to legal infractions (such as parking fines, speeding tickets, etc.) are the responsibility of the employee.  The College will not reimburse such fees or fines.

When several members of a department or many College officials are traveling to the same destination, the College recommends that employees consider whether to travel as a group or split the group to minimize exposure to the risks inherent in traveling.

Discounts are often available through AAA, AARP, MHEC, and other personal and professional organizations.  The College cannot pay for personal memberships, but if these discounts are available to the employee the College encourages the employee to utilize them and appreciates the effort to minimize travel costs.

Employees who travel frequently should request a Purchasing Card (Bank of America MasterCard).  Requests are available on the Controller’s Office web page and must be signed by a Department Head.  College credit cards should NEVER be used for personal travel expenses or other personal items.  If family members are accompanying you on a College funded trip please read the Spousal Travel section below.

This is an evolving document.  Updates will be made as regulatory (IRS) and industry standards change.  Employees should review the Travel and Business Expense Guidelines at least annually to be sure that they are in compliance with the guidelines.  The Travel and Business Expense Guidelines are posted on the Controller’s Office website.

Support staff travel

In certain circumstances support staff must be compensated for time spent while traveling on College business (getting to and from the conference or meeting location). Non-exempt or hourly staff who travel on College-related business for longer than one-day, are subject to specific federal and state wage and hour regulations that define how the individual must be paid for travel time.

Travel time on public transportation that occurs during the employee’s normal work hours is paid at straight time even if it occurs on Saturday or Sunday.  For example, if the work schedule is 8:30am – 4:30pm and travel is required on a Sunday between 8:00am and 11:00am, the employee will be paid 2.5 hours of travel time.

Employees will not be paid for travel time outside of the normal schedule unless requested to do so by the supervisor for legitimate business reasons.  For example, if the supervisor requests travel from 5:00pm – 7:00pm on a Saturday, the employee will be paid for travel time.  If, however, the employee chooses to travel at that time for his or her convenience, the time will not be paid.

All hours worked away on College business are paid at straight time, except for hours worked in excess of forty (40) in one week.  Both work and travel time are considered in the calculation of overtime.  All overtime must be approved in advance by the employee’s supervisor.

Spousal or companion travel

The payment for spouse traveling on business is closely regulated by the IRS.  The IRS requires a “bona fide business purpose” for the spouse to be on the business trip for the expenses to be reimbursable.  A Senior Staff member must approve any spousal travel at Williams College.  Documentation of the spouse’s business purpose must be clearly documented on all travel forms.  In the specific circumstance where non-business spousal travel is approved, the cost will be treated as taxable income to the employee.  In the event a spouse, companion, child, etc. travels with the employee any increased costs must be paid by the employee (i.e. double vs. single occupancy, meal costs, etc.).

As a courtesy, the College will allow an employee to charge a spouse/companion ticket to the College card when making the employee’s business reservation (so that the entire traveling party is assured of getting on the same flight, etc.).  The spouse/companion/child ticket must be reimbursed immediately when the charge is made to the College card.  Employees should not wait until they receive their statement or file their reconciliation to reimburse the College.    A copy of the reimbursement check should be attached to the front of the reconciliation when filed.

No spousal/companion charges should be paid by the College.  In the event expenses must be split (e.g. restaurant charges) reimbursement should be made immediately upon return from the trip.