This procedure defines the conditions, criteria and process for expenses associated with attendance at conferences, seminars and training.
This procedure applies to all full-time permanent employees with the exception of employees on probation. Contract employees and/or town representatives will require the approval of the Commissioner.
This procedure excludes educational courses that lead to the acquisition of an academic undergraduate degree, diploma, or certificate. Refer to the Tuition Reimbursement procedure.
Criteria and Considerations for Approving Conference, Seminars, and Training:
- All funding for conferences, seminars and training will be funded through the current year’s operating budget, or a related capital project for new training purposes only.
- All in-province conferences, seminars, and training are subject to pre-approval by the employee’s Director.
- All out-of-province, including out of country, conferences, seminars and training are subject to pre-approval by the CAO.
- Representation at any conference/seminar/training should be limited to one employee per department, unless attendance of additional employees has been approved in advance by the Director.
- This attendance can be initiated by either the employee or management but must be endorsed by management and where possible reflected in the employees TOPS learning plan.
Cost considerations for travel, accommodation, and other expenses should be taken in account prior to attendance (e.g. carpooling, car rental, sharing of registration tags, airfare verses mileage cost, online options).
Things such as employee travel time, weather conditions, and other safety concerns may influence management’s decision making and give cause for Directors to approve provisions outside of this procedure. Any exception to these procedures must be documented and necessary approvals must be in place prior to expenses being incurred.
- Prior to registration, employees are required to complete a Conference, Seminar, and Training form, which is available online. All applications must be approved prior to registration.
- Employee registration is the responsibility of the applicable department. Registration should be completed early to realize any early registration discounts where possible.
- Payments can be completed through the use of the employee’s PCOS or other delegate within the department.
- Where applicable, pre-approval documentation should be forwarded to Payroll and Benefits in the Finance department, in advance of the learning event.
- When air travel is the most economical method, air travel costs to and from event will be paid/reimbursed to a maximum of economy airfare including all applicable taxes, surcharges and cancellation insurance. The only exception to economy would be on long haul flights >10 hours where a premium economy seat could be purchased.
- Ground transportation to and from the airport will be reimbursed for the actual cost, employees are expected to find the most economical transportation.
- If car rental is required, employees are requested to rent mid-sized or compact vehicles. Fuel and rental costs are eligible expenses.
- When travel by train or bus is the most economical method, fares will be reimbursed to a maximum of economy (coach) travel.
- When personal vehicle use is the most economical method, mileage will be reimbursed at the current rate per kilometre, plus any parking and toll costs providing the total cost for both does not exceed the economy airfare and air travel costs or the economy train or bus noted above. Carpooling or car rental should be considered where possible. Mileage will be paid from the location of employment or the employee’s home whichever is closer.
- The Town assumes no financial responsibility for privately owned vehicles other than paying the kilometric rate.
- Note: toll costs will be limited to trip toll charges and will not include amounts related to the purchase of a transponder.
- Note: All travel costs must be substantiated with receipts with the exception of mileage reporting.
- All hotel accommodations must be approved by the employee’s Director in advance.
- Accommodations will be paid at single occupancy rate or at the conference rate for duration of event including travel time of up to one day if necessary.
- Payments can be completed through the use of the employee’s PCOS or other delegate within the department.
- Hotel accommodations for multiple day events will be paid for if the event is over 120 kilometres from town hall.
- Hotel accommodations between 40 & 120 kilometre radius, must be approved by the Director.
- Hotel accommodations will not be paid for conferences less than 40 kilometre radius of Town Hall, without approval from the Commissioner or CAO.
- Room charges for personal services such as entertainment, mini-bar, room service, laundry service, pay TV or movies, or special facility charges are the responsibility of the employee.
- Wi-Fi and business related phone calls will be reimbursed as billable expenses
- All accommodation charges and/or reimbursements to employees must be substantiated with receipts.
- Meals, Gratuities and Incidentals
- For events that occur over the course of two days or more, per diem rates for meals will be provided (no receipts required). Per diem rates will not be paid out where meal arrangements are provided as part of registration to the conference/seminar/training. Detailed review of the itinerary will be compared to claim for per diem rates.
- Per diem rates are as follows:
- Breakfast: $15
- Lunch: $25
- Dinner: $35
- Incidentals (>2days): $25
- Incidentals could include phone calls, in room movie rentals or other room charges and will be reimbursed on a per diem rate of $25 for events that occur over the course of two days or more.
- Payment for meals or incidentals cannot be made using PCOS
- Purchases of any alcohol will not be reimbursed by the town
- For single day events, only lunch will be reimbursed if not included within registration fees.
Application and approval process
- Employees are required to complete a Conference, Seminar and Training form, which is available online.
- All applications require approval as per this procedure:
- In Province: Require approval from the employee’s Supervisor, up to and including the Director. Approval must be gained prior to registration.
- Out of Province/Country: Require approval from the employee’s Supervisor, up to and including the CAO. Approval must be gained prior to registration.
- Once an employee’s request has been approved, the employee can proceed to register.
Process for reimbursement/payment of expenses:
- Employees shall provide the estimated total costs of the conference and receive pre-approval prior to registering. When personal travel is combined with business travel, the employee will be reimbursed for only the business portion of the trip. Travel arrangements where personal travel is combined with business travel must be brought to the attention of the approver prior to booking the travel. It is the employee’s responsibility to make sure the allocation of business versus personal travel is made clear.
- Travel and Conference Expense Submission form must be completed and submitted to Payroll & Benefits in Finance for reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses after attending conference. All expenses must be indicated on the form, including expenses paid using PCOS or through Accounts Payable. Original receipts for PCOS related expenses must be attached to the PCOS, with copies attached to the conference, seminar & training form and, all other expenses must be substantiated by original receipts; meals and incidental will be reimbursed at the per diem rate with no receipts required.
- Examples of non-permitted expenses include: alcohol, childcare, parking fines, lost or stolen items, normal commuting costs, clothing, donations, spousal or guest expenses and entertainment (tours and additional individual events are the responsibility of the employee).
- Submission forms must be signed by employee and approved by Director and submitted to Payroll within 15 days of attending the conference, seminar or training. Completed forms are required whether there is an employee reimbursement or not.
- Reimbursement of all conference, seminar and training expenses will be paid during the next pay cycle.
- Pre conference advances are not available.
- In translating expenses paid in foreign currencies, the rate to be used should be as follows:
- For cash payments, the rate paid when the foreign currency was purchased,
- For credit card purchases, the rate used by the bank to convert the purchase to Canadian dollars.
- Where proof of payment is not available or in absence of a rate, the Department should assess the reasonability of the rate by comparing it to the prevailing rate at the time the expenses were incurred. For rates that are not available, Finance will refer to an on-line currency conversion rate in effect for the specific day / period.
Conference/Training/ Seminar: Formal meetings a day or more in length that are focused on a particular topic or series of topics related to an area of specialization. This learning does not result in the awarding of an academic degree, diploma or certificate.
PCOS: Refers to the town’s Purchase Card Operating System, which includes the corporate credit card system, policies and procedures.
Out-of-pocket expenses: An expense incurred and paid for by an individual for personal use or relating to one's employment or business.
Incidentals: Including fees and tips for porters, baggage handlers and other personal service for employees relating to one’s employment or business.
Town Representative: Non-town employee who may be asked to attend events on behalf of the town.
Receipts: Proof of payment that is itemized and includes all taxes paid
Employee/ Town Representative
- Obtain necessary authorization for attendance at conferences, seminars, training in advance of attending.
- Become familiar with and adhering to the principles and requirements outlined in the policy and procedure.
- Take advantage of “early bird” registration discounts once all appropriate approvals have been received.
- Arrange the most appropriate and cost effective method of travel in accordance with policy and procedure.
- Book accommodation in accordance with policy and procedure.
- Provide the conference itinerary to appropriate level of authority and Payroll & Benefits in Finance.
- Retain all receipts relating to expenses incurred to substantiate reimbursement or PCOS reconciliation.
- Complete the “Final Conference, Seminar and Training Expense Submission” form in a timely manner, attaching the pre-approval to attend, all appropriate receipts, a copy of the conference itinerary, obtaining the appropriate signature(s) on the form and submitting it to Payroll within 15 days of attending the conference.
- Fully understand the code of conduct, as you are representing the town.
- Spend the town funds appropriately and ensure all expenses are defendable as they are subject to audit and public scrutiny.
- Staff who attend conference (Code 160), seminar and training (Code 175) during regular business hours should follow the attendance tracking procedure and note the correct attendance code in the attendance reporting module or on the timesheet of bi-weekly exemption sheet. This allows for tracking of time associated with these events by employee. Overtime for additional time spent at these events will not be paid out, unless pre-approval is granted prior to the event. Collective agreements must be taken into consideration.
- Ensure there is a benefit to the town and employee.
- Approve attendance at in province conferences, seminars and training.
- Learning can be initiated by either the employee or management but must be endorsed by management and where possible reflected in the employee’s TOPS learning plan. The learning/experience should be related to development for future career goals within the employee’s career path or for the purposes of succession planning.
- Ensure that the appropriate pre-approvals have been obtained prior to registration.
- Approve the attendance of more than one employee from a department at the same event.
- Encourage cost saving practices (i.e. carpooling, car rental, sharing registration tags).
- Ensure that there are extenuating circumstances when approving hotel accommodation for less than 120 km from town hall, and provide reasons to the Commissioner for less than 40 km from town hall.
- Ensure adequate funding in the current year operating budget or ensure that the training for new initiatives are necessary and included in the capital budget.
- Review the “Final Conference, Seminar & Training Expense Submission” form to ensure that the policy and procedure have been followed
- Approve the expense submission form and submit to Payroll & Benefits in Finance.
- Approve hotel accommodation for within 40 km from town hall.
- Approve attendance for all contract staff and/or town representatives to attend all conferences.
- Approve attendance at out-of-Province conferences after determining there is a benefit to the town and staff in attending.
- Review “Final Conference, Seminar and Training Expense Submission” forms and related backup to ensure completeness, accuracy and compliance with policy and procedure.
- If required approval is not provided or if expenses not in compliance to policy and procedure, advise employee to follow up and provide the required documentation to Payroll.
- Process reimbursement payment on next applicable pay period.
- Review conference/training itinerary to confirm per diem meal rates are valid for reimbursement.
- Ensure that full audit trail is consistently available for internal and external auditors.
- Review PCOS packages and invoices, ensuring that appropriate receipts are attached to substantiate expense.
- Ensure correct object codes are utilized and employee subledger reflect the attendee.
- Ensure HST rebates are recovered and credited to the business units.
- Track information on participation in conferences, seminars, and training.