Conference, Seminar and Training Expense Procedure

Purpose Statement

This procedure defines the conditions, criteria and process for expenses associated with attendance at conferences, seminar and training not leading to the acquisition of an academic diploma or degree.

Scope

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 and/or CAO.

Procedure

Criteria and considerations for approving conference, seminars and training:

  1. 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.
  2. All in-province conferences, seminars, and training are subject to pre-approval by the employee’s Director
  3. All out-of-province, conferences, seminars and training subject to pre-approval by the CAO in writing, in addition to the Director and Commissioner
  4. 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 Commissioner.
  5. 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.

Conference arrangements:

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).

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.

1. 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 the Payroll Section, Financial Operations Department, in advance of the learning event.
  • Travel
    • 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 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.

2. Accommodations

  • 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 employees 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 and 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.

3. 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. A receipt will be required.
  • Per diem rates will be converted to CAD,  if training occurs outside of Canada.
  • One day seminars or workshops may claim up to $35 to cover all meals and incidentals but receipts must be submitted for reimbursement

Process for reimbursement/payment of expenses:

  1. Employees shall provide their Directors with the estimated total costs of the conference and receive pre-approval for any out of province or country travel. 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.
  2. Travel and Conference Expense Submission form must be completed and submitted to the Payroll Section in Financial Operations 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 and 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.
  3. 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).
  4. 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.
  5. Reimbursement of all conference, seminar and training expenses will be paid during the next pay cycle
  6. Pre conference advances are not available.
  7. 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, Financial Operations will refer to an on-line currency conversion rate in effect for the specific day / period.

Definitions

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 the awarding of professional certifications, diplomas or degrees.

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

Responsibilities

Town employee/representative

  • Obtain necessary authorization for attendance at conference 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 Section of Financial Operations Department
  • 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 all appropriate receipts, a copy of the conference itinerary, obtaining the appropriate signature on 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 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.

Director

  • Ensure there is a benefit to the corporation and employee.
  • Learning 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. 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 if conference is out of Province
  • Ensure that rationale is provided if more than 1 staff are attending the same event, unless otherwise pre-approved by Commissioner
  • 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 or CAO 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 Section, Financial Operations Department

Commissioner and/or CAO

  • Approve attendance at out of Province conferences after determining there is a benefit to the corporation and staff in attending
  • Ensure that rationale is provided if more than 1 staff are attending the same event
  • Approve hotel accommodation for within 40 km from town hall

Payroll

  • Review “Final Conference, Seminar and Training Expense Submission” forms and related backup to ensure completeness, accuracy and compliance with policy and procedure
  • Follow up and seek necessary approvals as required or adjust conference costs to comply with policy and procedure, seek additional sign off by the Commissioner or CAO if expenses not in compliance to policy and procedure.
  • Process reimbursement payment as soon as possible, as a non-taxable payment
  • 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
  • Scan conference form into employee record in CIS

Accounting Services

  • Review PCOS packages and Accounts Payable 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

Human Resources

  • Track and update employee training records based on participation in conferences, seminars, and training.

Procedure details

Procedure Number: HR-DVL-001-002
Parent Policy: HR-DVL-001
Section: Human Resources
Sub-Section: Develop
Author: Human Resources and Financial Operations
Authority: CAO
Effective Date: 2016 Feb 29
Review by Date: 2021
Last Modified: 2016 Jun 27

References

Appendix 1 - Final Conference, Seminar and Training Expense Form