Travel and Expense

How to Submit a Business Expense Claim (Advice for First Timers)

Lara Edwards |

Submitting a business expense claim can be very straightforward – but only when you know how and when your processes are simple.

Many employees will never have needed to submit a business expense claim before now. This might be because they have always been office-based. It might be because they are a key worker.

Whatever the reason, you may find yourself with several employees wondering how to reclaim expenses they’ve incurred because they are working from home. You may also have employees who don’t know that it’s possible to reclaim expenses from their employer. Now is the time to reach out and make sure everyone knows how your expense system works.

You may be able to support employees with a quick phone conversation. You might choose to record a video talking people through the process. You might decide to run a live training session. Whichever way you choose to approach it, here are some of the things you should consider covering.


What Expenses to Submit

Start with the basics. What expenses can employees claim?

Your starting point will be your Travel and Expense policy, so make sure employees know where they can access a copy to check their claim before they submit. (If you don’t have an expense policy in place, our Expense Policy Builder is a good place to start.)

Expense Policy Builder

Looking for an expense policy for your business but don’t know where to start? Create your very own customisable expense policy template in just a few clicks.

Build your policy

Bear in mind that the government has issued guidance on expenses for employees working from home because of Covid-19, so you might need to update your policy in light of this.


The Information You Need to Include in an Expense Claim

Talk your employees through your expense claim process or form.

You’ll need to make sure employees understand what information is needed and why – getting everything right first time will help you process their claim more quickly.

If you use an automated system such as Concur Expense, employees may not be able to submit a claim if it doesn’t conform to the relevant checks and thresholds. You might want to run them through the process and all the information that’s required so they know what they’re doing and why.


How Frequently You Should Submit Expense Claims

Do you ask employees to submit claims on an ad hoc basis or in batches at the end of every week, fortnight or month?

You may be considering temporary changes to your policy around this. On the one hand, you’ll be keeping a very close eye on cash flow and need to optimise this wherever you can. On the other hand, employees may be facing cash flow issues of their own and will appreciate a speedy reimbursement.


Where to Send the Expense Claim

Once the expense claim is ready, where does it need to go? If you’re using an automated system, this will be straightforward.

If you’re using a paper-based system, there may be a new process that’s been put in place to cope with your newly remote workforce. For example, an employee might normally have printed the form, attached the receipt to it, and put it in their manager’s in-tray. Now, you might be asking employees to photograph the receipt and email it to their manager with an electronic version of the form.


The Expense Approval Process

You’ll want to let employees know what happens once they have submitted their claim. Who will approve their claim? What happens if there’s a query on their claim? How long will it take to reimburse them? Remember that this might be different to usual.


Who to Contact If You Have Questions

Finally, make sure employees feel supported in this new process. Your expense policy should be people’s first port of call because it’s likely to cover all the basic questions. But make sure employees know who their point of contact is if they need to run something past someone.

Putting together training to support employees new to expenses may make you see your process in a whole new light. It’s only when you stop to think about something that you realise how it could be improved.


If this is the case, you might find this white paper useful: The Blueprint of a Best Practice Expense Process.

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