Inappropriate employee expense claims on the rise in Canada

Some of the more egregious infractions included cat food, a helicopter ride, a lawn mower – and a live octopus: Robert Half report

Mario ToneguzziCompanies see many unusual expense requests from their employees but according to a recent survey, the majority of executives say requests that push the envelope have increased in recent years.

The Robert Half Management Resources survey, which was released on Thursday, found that 58 per cent of chief financial officers in Canada reported an increase in the number of inappropriate reimbursement submissions over the last three years.

“Some of the more egregious infractions included cat food, a helicopter ride and a lawn mower,” said the report.

“While some expense requests may seem humorous or even bold, they can cause problems for businesses,” said David King, senior district president of Robert Half Management Resources, in a news release. “Organizations benefit from having clear company policies and effective review processes – otherwise, things like expense reports can become time-consuming issues for the company.”

CFOs cited the following additional examples of “audacious” expense reimbursement submissions:

  • speeding ticket;
  • carnival costume;
  • cowboy boots;
  • renting goats to cut grass;
  • taxes.

Expenditures for children and pets were commonly flagged, including:

  • daycare;
  • pet sitting;
  • cat food;
  • cleaning bill to remove dog excrement;
  • toys.

Robert Half said household items and expenses were also popular reimbursement submissions:

  • ice-cream mixer;
  • bricks for walls;
  • lawnmower;
  • popcorn maker.

“There were even a few requests that verged on the incredulous,” said the report:

  • embezzlement expenses;
  • a live octopus — for a pet, not food;
  • hot air balloon rental;
  • a day at the spa.

The research found most companies utilize technology-based solutions in their expense-reporting process, with 51 per cent of firms using internally developed software and another 39 per cent employing third-party software or systems.

Only 10 per cent of organizations overall use manual processes, though this jumps to 21 per cent for the smallest firms in the survey (20 to 49 employees).

© Troy Media

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