Canadians include cowboy hats and helicopter rides in company expense accounts

Published: July 27, 2019

Updated: August 28, 2019

Author: Luke Jones

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In the business world, there are a lot of additional expenses employees must face, especially if they are out of office workers such as loss adjusters. However, a new study suggests companies should keep a closer eye on what employees try to justify on their expense reports.

Despite most organizations have a strict guideline around expense accounts, a study found numerous questionable items were submitted for reimbursement. Indeed, according to staffing management firm Robert Half Management Resources, dodgy expenses are becoming increasingly common in Canada.

Participants in the company’s survey included items such as fancy-dress costumes, a helicopter ride, cat food, and speeding tickets as expenses. Other curious items were goats to keep grass trim and a cowboy hat.

58% of respondents said strange reimbursement reports are becoming more common compared to the past three years.

While the humour in these items is obvious, companies are spending time and effort sorting through these reports. David King, senior district president of Robert Half Management Resources said improper requests on expense accounts are becoming an issue for companies.

“While some expense requests may seem humorous or even bold, they can cause problems for businesses,” he said. “Organizations benefit from having clear company policies and effective review processes. Otherwise, things like expense reports can become time-consuming issues for the company.”

Manual expense reporting is still a relatively common practice in Canada, with around 20% of all small companies with up to 50 employees using the method.

“Take measures to resolve any uncertainty among staff about what is considered a valid business expense,” King added. “Make policies readily available, include examples of various potential situations to clarify grey areas and train accounting staff to address questions or head-off problems before they arise.”