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Employee Reimbursement Guidelines during COVID-19

Purpose

These guidelines are put in place in recognition of the Ryerson University business expenses employees may be incurring during this time to allow them to perform their duties for the University and describe the parameters under which employees may be reimbursed for expenses while remote work continues during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Principles

  1. University funds must be used prudently and responsibly with a focus on accountability and transparency. 
  2. Expenses must be in the interest of University business and, if challenged or audited, claimants must be able to make a clear connection between the expense and the benefit to the University. 
  3. All equipment and tangible assets acquired partially or entirely with University funds are the property of the University.
  4. Reimbursements are not automatic as business expenses are to be reasonable and fiscally responsible for a publicly funded institution. They are subject to leader approval and must be justifiable. 
  5. An employee can never approve their own expenses, or those of the employee to whom they report, or those of an employee who holds a more senior position in the University.
  6. Expenses must be supported by original or electronic copies of receipts and be out of pocket or incurred by the claimant.
  7. With remote work, some costs could serve both personal and University business requirements. It is required that only the business percentage be claimed as permitted within this guideline.

Scope and application

This guideline applies to all Ryerson University business expenses incurred by employees, regardless of funding source whether from operating budgets, trust accounts, research or special purpose accounts. 

This guideline is effective October 1, 2020 until further notice, and is subject to change without advance notice.

Allowable remote employee expenses

This section should be read in conjunction with the google docRemote Office Setup Guidelines, external link.

Faculties and departments are responsible for office supplies such as paper, pens and printer toner/ink and should purchase items using a Ryerson Purchasing Card or by submitting a purchase requisition.

Employees should arrange for existing supplies from the offices to be taken home for use on Ryerson business wherever practical and in line with health and safety guidelines regarding coming to campus.

It is acceptable for departmental assistants to purchase office supplies with a purchasing card directly from Ryerson’s vendors of record and have those supplies shipped directly to employees' homes, with their leader’s prior approval.

In extenuating circumstances, employees can purchase office supplies as needed from other sources, only with prior approval by their leader, and submit these expenses for reimbursement.

Equipment and other tangible assets may include chairs, monitor stands, stand-up office desk, computer and related peripheral devices, such as laptops, printers, scanners, Wi-Fi hubs, headsets, keyboards, tablets, mouse, webcam, microphones, and portable storage devices.

Employees are encouraged to prioritize the retrieval of existing equipment from the offices before the delivery or purchase of additional/new equipment. All equipment and tangible assets that are purchased or retrieved are to be tracked by the department (e.g. google docusing the Remote work equipment inventory template, external link) to ensure it is returned when employees resume work on campus or leave the University.

All purchases paid by the University are the property of the University and should only be purchased if they can be put to use upon return to the University.

Employees are not permitted to purchase items with the intent to repurchase for personal use at a future time, nor will the University contribute an amount toward an employee’s personally owned asset (e.g. pay the first $200 of a $500 home office desk).

Leaders are in the best position to assess employee needs and exercise fiscal responsibility within budget availability when it comes to home office setup and approving the purchases of equipment and other tangible assets. Faculties and departments are encouraged to review Ryerson’s vendors of record for common items before making a purchase. 

All purchases must be in accordance with existing University policies and procedures. Payments should be made using the university Pcard or submitting the vendor invoice via SSI. Contact Purchasing Services for assistance.

All computer-related acquisitions should be approved by divisional/departmental technology resources and Computing and Communications Services (CCS) to ensure appropriate security measures, compliance standards and licensing requirements are adhered to.

Normally the cost of meals and entertaining University-only employees is not reimbursable, except in extenuating and special circumstances as specially approved by the leader in advance.

A full explanation of the business purpose, listing of the attending employees and confirmation of the advance approved authorization of the special circumstance must be included with the expense report.

The use of home food delivery services to employee’s homes for virtual meetings, social events or personal consumption is not permitted under any circumstance.

Existing home internet and telephone plans (both landlines and cell phones) are generally viewed as personal expenses and are not eligible for reimbursement. In exceptional and rare circumstances, a justifiable and direct relationship to a University business purpose may exist as approved by a leader. 

Monthly home access and basic fees for service, installation or upgrades will not be reimbursed as these are considered to be taxable benefits by the Canada Revenue Agency.

In some exceptional circumstances, additional costs over and above existing home internet and telephone plans may be incurred, for example, data charges or long distance phone calls over and above the limits of the plan. Additional data activity that is justified for University purposes may in some cases be approved, at the discretion of the leader, to be reimbursed up to a maximum of 50% of the overage, not 50% of the entire plan. This should equal only a nominal amount and must be justifiable and reasonable as outlined in the principles. 

Long distance phone calls or nominal and limited data roaming charges for employees who may reside outside of the GTA that are necessary and specifically for University business may be reimbursable. Employees are encouraged to utilize JABBER where possible and should contact CCS for assistance.

As current practice, some Ryerson employees are eligible for University-purchased cell phone devices as determined by their leader. In these instances, the devices are University property and should be on the Ryerson cell phone plan.

As current practice, some Ryerson employees are required by the University to be on call and/or connected to the University at times outside the normal business hours. These employees are able to use their own device.

Cell phone services provided by the University-preferred supplier should be paid via a Ryerson Purchasing Card and not reimbursed through an expense claim.

In other instances, monthly service amounts up to the standard corporate rates negotiated by the University (currently $22 for 6GB of data) will be reimbursed to the employee unless a higher volume plan is justified and approved by their divisional head.

Ineligible remote employee expenses

 Ineligible expenses are those that do not meet the basic principle that expenses must be in the interest of University business and there is no clear connection between the expense and the benefit to the University. The following home-related list of expenses is not exhaustive but provides a guideline for the types of expenses that are ineligible for reimbursement.

  • Office costs and changes to home workspace
  • Utilities
  • Maintenance or property upkeep costs
  • Property or liability insurance
  • House Cleaning
  • Residential rent costs and any other rental locations
  • Mortgage related payments
  • Property taxes
  • Other home-related incidental expenses
  • Items that will not remain the property of the University following the conclusion of the COVID-19 working from home period

Jurisdiction

This guideline falls under the jurisdiction of the Chief Financial Officer (CFO). All expenditures are subject to audit review.

Financial Services is responsible for reviewing submissions for appropriate authorizations, supporting documents and variance from normal practice. Claims may be returned for clarification if approvals or documents are missing.

Financial Services also provides systems that work efficiently, provide training and guidance, answers questions and has the right to question certain expenses when they notice variation from the policy.

For more information

If you have questions about the reimbursement guidelines, please contact Mary Jane Pacheco, manager, payment services at mpachec@ryerson.ca.