Board Expenses Policy

This policy is for members of the Governing Board. Last updated December 2016.

1.0 Introduction

The principle of the expenses policy for the Governing Board is to ensure that all Governing Board members continue to be reimbursed for all necessary expenditure reasonably incurred in the performance of their Cochrane Board duties. 

All legitimate expenses incurred in accordance with the expense policy will be reimbursed. However, it is the claimant’s responsibility to ensure that costs are reasonable. Cochrane reserves the right not to reimburse expenses when they are not deemed reasonable and do not comply with this policy.

Deliberately falsifying expense claims will be classed as conduct which has had or is likely to have a serious adverse effect on the Charity or bring the Charity or any or all of the members or Directors into disrepute; or is contrary to the interests of the Charity as a whole. Such actions may lead to termination of membership of the Governing Board and members will be asked to resign, or may be removed from office and disqualified from eligibility as a Trustee under UK law.

2.0 Scope and general principle

It is the responsibility of all Board members making expense claims to adhere to this policy and any related/ appropriate policies such as the Environmental Policy. All claims must be completed correctly and be submitted to invoices@cochrane.org. Claims that are not in accordance with the expenses policy will be returned to the claimant.

Please direct any questions regarding this expenses policy to the Head of Finance and Core Services.

3.0 Eligibility

This policy applies only to all members of the Governing Board acting in their role as a member of the Governing Board. It does not apply to other Cochrane offices they may hold.

4.0 Guidelines on how to claim your expenses 

4.1 Timeliness of submission and refund

Expenses should be submitted as soon as possible after they have been incurred; this should be not later than three months after the expense. 

The Cochrane office will process the claim within 15 working days, after all relevant information has been submitted.

4.2 Receipts

Original receipts must accompany all claims. Lost receipts can be supported by credit card slips or statements; however, these will not be accepted as evidence of business expenditure unless this has been approved by the Head of Finance and Core Services.  Any expenses claimed without a supporting receipt must be clearly identified on the claim form with a reason for why a receipt could not be provided. For UK claims where VAT can be reclaimed on the expenditure, a VAT receipt must include the name and address of the retailer, the retailer's VAT registration number, the date of the purchase, details of what goods or services have been purchased and the VAT inclusive value of those goods or services in the currency the expense was incurred.

4.3 Expenses

Claims should be made using the expenses claim form, which is designed to capture all the relevant information to enable your claim to be processed first time. Any claim that is incorrectly completed or arithmetically wrong will be returned and remain unpaid until it is corrected. Expenses/project codes should be noted against expenditure before the claim is submitted for authorisation. 

Where expenses are incurred in currencies other than GBP, the amounts should be shown with the currency in question clearly marked. Reimbursement will be made in the member’s home currency. The rate of exchange will be the rate in force on the date the expense was incurred.  Claimants may substantiate this by including a credit card receipt showing the rate of exchange used, or may consult online currency converters to find out the rate in force on a given date.

Expenses should be claimed using Cochrane’s expense claim form. Expenses will be paid through credit transfer direct to the individual’s bank account. Cochrane will not reimburse expenses via any other means.

4.4 Authorisation of expenses

All Board expense claims must be authorised by Cochrane’s CEO on behalf of Co-Chairs (the CEO checks with the Co-Chairs if guidance is required). Claims may be rejected for correction or further information. 

All expense claims must be submitted to invoices@cochrane.org.  Finance staff will review the claim to ensure that all receipts are attached, that the claim is both arithmetically legitimate and generally compliant with this policy.  Finance staff will then pass the claim to the relevant person for authorization, flagging any anomalies or uncertainties.

Expense incurred by Expense reviewed by Expense authorised by
Board member Finance staff CEO on behalf of Co-Chairs
Board Co-Chairs Finance staff Treasurer

 

4.5 Shared expenses

Where expenses are paid for a group of Board members (e.g. a group dinner) by one member, the claimant must note the full names of other Board members in attendance and the reason for incurring the expenditure on the expenses claim form.

5.0 Advances

Cash advances are not normally permitted. However, if there is an exceptional circumstance then the Board member may contact the Head of Finance and Core Services for this facility. Approval would need to be provided by the CEO or Co-Chair.

6.0 Exclusions

The following types of expenditure are not claimable (this list is not exhaustive):

  • Gifts
  • Traffic fines (including non-payment of congestion charge), parking fines and speeding penalties
  • Changes to planned travel and accommodation resulting in penalty charges which have not been approved prior to the change being made by the CEO.

(These policies are explained in more detail below - see clauses 13, 8.7 and 8.1).

7.0 Entertaining stakeholders & guests / accepting hospitality

Cochrane must always be seen as unbiased and independent. Governing Board members should take care when offering and accepting lunch or dinner invitations with stakeholders. Particular circumstances may mean that a lunch or dinner with a stakeholder is inappropriate. If Governing Board members are unsure whether to make or accept an invitation, they must obtain guidance from the Co-Chair.

The following guidelines apply to invitations from external organisations to functions where the Board member is authorized by the Co-Chairs to represent the Board, including:

  • Event-based hospitality, which allows Governing Board members to meet Cochrane stakeholders, and may shape or promote our work, is generally acceptable. 
  • Work-related hospitality from a single stakeholder is acceptable where it can clearly be seen to be of value to Cochrane’s work.
  • Board members should avoid hospitality that benefits them personally if it is difficult to justify as being of benefit to Cochrane or if there is risk of a suggestion of possible bias. 
  • Board members may entertain stakeholders and guests only where it is pre-approved by the CEO or Co-Chair and is likely to help Cochrane to further its objectives. 

To provide support, the following details should be included on the claim:

  • the name of each person attending
  • which attendees are from Cochrane and which are external guests
  • the reason for the entertainment.

Cochrane requires accurate information to prove that tax is not payable on the entertainment. Board members should not allow themselves to enter into situations where they subsequently feel obliged to return an invitation. Subject to these constraints, Board members may claim reasonable and appropriate entertaining expenses, for further clarification about what is deemed reasonable please speak to the CEO or Co-Chair in the first instance.

Cost of drinks outside of an evening meal may only be claimed by Co-Chairs as part of approved business activity.

8.0 Travel expenses

Cochrane will pay reasonable costs of necessary travel on Cochrane Governing Board business. (ie activities approved by the Co-Chairs including attending Board meetings and Colloquia).  
Note: Travel which is primarily for private purposes does not count as Cochrane business.

Governing Board members are entitled to claim expenses for one full day prior the start of meetings, in order to rest from the trip.  For mid-year meetings, they are entitled to claim for the entire meeting, including registration fees for any symposia that forms part of the meeting.  For Colloquia, registration fees will be paid by Cochrane and expenses for accommodation and meals for the duration of Colloquium in addition to the days of the Board meetings will be covered.

Governing Board members must make every effort to obtain the most economical rates, use the most cost effective transport option available and take the most appropriate route consistent with the purpose of their trip.  Governing Board members should travel by the most cost effective and appropriate mode of transport, taking into account journey time as well as monetary cost for each part of a journey, and any physical or disability needs they may have. Travel arrangements should be planned and booked as early as possible to benefit from early booking discounts.  Assistance for travel booking can be made through the FCS team.

8.1 Changes to travel plans and associated expenses

Individuals are required to carefully consider their travel itinerary before tickets are booked to avoid the need for changes. This is applicable to all modes of transport. Where a booking has to be cancelled, the individual should do this as soon as possible.

Cochrane will only pay for travel booking changes when they arise as a result of Cochrane changing a meeting time or date, or in exceptional circumstances such as extreme weather. For the sake of clarity, this does not include meetings changed at the request of the traveller. If tickets are changed for personal reasons, the claimant will be expected to pay these additional costs.

The permitted reason for the change must be set out in the claim or booking, to ensure that Cochrane can demonstrate control over the use of its charitable funds. This must then be approved by the person responsible for approving that individual’s expenses.

8.2 Taxis

Public transport should be used wherever possible except where it is either impractical or inappropriate. In such cases licensed taxis may be used. 

Though travel by tube or bus is expected, wherever possible, for short journeys, in the following circumstances it may be necessary to use a taxi:

  • Where equipment or heavy baggage is being carried
  • When no public transport is available (for example, in the early morning or late at night) 
  • Where the claimant is pregnant or has a disability/ mobility issues.

Taxis should be paid, and costs reclaimed in the normal way. For travel to and from airports, if impractical, inappropriate or not possible to use public transport then use of licensed taxis is acceptable. In order to secure the lowest rates taxis should be pre-booked wherever possible.

8.3 Trains

Governing Board members should travel on trains with the most cost effective ticketing option that meets business needs which is usually a standard class ticket. Expensive flexible tickets offering varied return times should not be purchased. In the event that such a ticket is required for business reasons this should be approved by the Co-Chairs prior to booking.

8.4 Air travel

Air travel should only be used when it is the most economical and practical method of travel. You must book flights as far in advance as possible to get discounted rates. The most cost effective ticketing arrangements must be used.

Air travel on Cochrane’s business should generally be by economy class. Cochrane will not meet the cost of first class air travel. Premium Economy air travel will be allowed for long distance travel where a single leg of a journey includes a flight over 7 hours duration, and where the ability to work on the flight is essential.  
Business class is not generally allowed unless a Business Class fare is cheaper than an Economy or Premium Economy fare.

As a guide:

  • Flights of less than 7 hours: Economy fare
  • Flights of 7 or more hours: Premium Economy, Economy Plus or a fare of lower or equivalent cost 

Expensive flexible tickets offering varied return flight times should not be purchased. In the event that such a ticket is required for business reasons this should be approved by the Treasurer, prior to booking.

If a Governing Board member chooses to upgrade their ticket at their own expense, Cochrane will provide a refund based on a discounted (ie not fully flexible) Economy fare (if less than 7 hours) or Premium Economy fare (if over 7 hours) on the most direct route (if possible by the national carrier of the arriving or departing country), and the production of valid proof of purchase.

Airport parking should only be used where the cost is less than traveling to the airport by other modes of transport.

8.5 Food

Governing Board members are required to submit receipts for all food purchased during the travel.  Modest amounts of alcohol is reimbursable (for example a glass of wine with dinner).  It is expected that members are not extravagant in expenses incurred. Per diems are not provided.

8.6 Car, motorbike and bicycle expenses

Business travel by car should only be undertaken if other more cost effective and lower carbon modes of transport are not available or are impractical.

In the event of an insurance claim, Cochrane will not pay any excess charges levied by your insurance provider.

In relation to use of private vehicles, the following rules apply:

  • You are responsible for ensuring that both you and your vehicle are appropriately insured for business travel.
  • Fines for traffic offences will not be reimbursed if incurred whilst on business travel.

Where it is cost effective to make a business journey by car, motorcycle or bicycle you may claim a mileage allowance using the relevant government mileage/ km allowance reimbursement rate in your home country or the country where the travel occurred.

The claim should include details of from where and to, mileage and reason for the journey. 

8.7 Tolls, congestion charges and parking expenses

Tolls, congestion charges and parking fees are reimbursable whilst travelling on Cochrane business. 
Fines or interest charges regarding late or non-payment are the responsibility of Governing Board members and will not be reimbursed.

8.9 Sundry items

Cochrane can only reimburse excess baggage costs that result from carrying equipment on behalf of Cochrane.

The cost of receiving vaccinations required for overseas travel on behalf of Cochrane can be reclaimed.

Cochrane will normally reimburse reasonable out of pocket expenses incurred by individual claimants on College business such as the cost of postage, phone calls and stationery, currency exchange fees and bank charges, subject to a receipt being submitted with the claim.

If you are in doubt about what may be claimed, or wish to claim for items not mentioned in this expenses policy, please contact the Head of Finance and Core Services for advice prior to incurring the expense.

9.0 Travel insurance

Cochrane has a comprehensive travel insurance policy in place for those travelling on Cochrane business and so no separate cover should be taken without prior consultation with the Head of Finance and Core Services. Appropriate documentation regarding travel insurance should be provided to you by the Cochrane prior to travel.

10.0     Accommodation

Cochrane will endeavour to book accommodation for members at mid-year meetings and Colloquia, to take advantage of block booking discounts.  Where this service is not available, members are expected to choose from hotels which have negotiated special rates for the events, or hotels where the rates are at an equivalent charge to the event hotels.

10.1 Type of accommodation

In all cases the cheapest type of standard room available should be used. 
However, it is acknowledged that in some cases a room with a kitchen may be required so that the Board member can cook their own meals to meet their dietary requirements. 

10.2 Cancellation & no show charges

If accommodation needs to be cancelled, Board members should ensure that it is cancelled appropriately to avoid penalties and charges. Unless there is an urgent personal or compelling business reason for cancelling a reservation after the cancellation deadline, any charges incurred will be deemed the personal responsibility of the member and are not reimbursable. 

10.3 Multiple trips and multiple bookings

If more than one Board member is travelling to the same destination, all accommodation bookings should be made at the same time in order to obtain the best possible rates using a Cochrane credit/debit card, these types of bookings should be made via the FCS admin team.

11.0 Subsistence

11.1 Subsistence when staying away overnight

Cochrane will reimburse reasonable out-of-pocket expenses when a journey on Cochrane business makes it necessary to stay away from home overnight. You may claim such things as breakfast, lunch or an evening meal with drink.

11.2 Subsistence when staying with friends or relatives

If you have to stay away from home overnight on Cochrane business, and stay with relatives or friends instead of a hotel, you may claim a reasonable meal cost to thank your hosts. You must confirm that the overnight stay was necessary for business purposes on the expenses claim form and this should have been approved in advance by the Co-Chair or Treasurer.

12.0 Business telephone calls from home

When you need to call home we would always encourage communication through the most economical way such as Skype, Face Time, What’s App. If you make business telephone calls from home or your personal mobile phone, you may claim the cost of the call. Your claim must give details of the call, identify the business reason for making it and be accompanied by a copy of the appropriate page of an itemised telephone bill, on which the business call is highlighted. Cochrane will not pay for line rental.

13.0 Gifts

It is Cochrane policy not to accept, provide or receive gifts either from an individual or an organisation. In the event that an individual or organisation insists on making a gift which could compromise either the individual or the organisation (as a guide exceeding a monetary value of £50) it should be donated to a charity of Cochrane’s choice. Gifts of less than £50 in value may be accepted by members, but should be disclosed to Co-Chairs. Promotional gifts such as pens, mugs, mouse mats with a value of less than £10 in value do not require declaration and may be accepted by members. Under no circumstances should gifts of any value be accepted from regulated entities or from a pharmaceutical or device manufacturer, or any other organisation with a commercial conflict of interest relevant to the content of Cochrane reviews. If members have any uncertainty regarding this they should discuss it with the Co-Chair.

14.0 Charitable donations

Board members should not make donations on behalf of Cochrane either through use of a Cochrane credit card or out of pocket expenses.

15.0 Cancellation of travel due to illness

Should your travel be cancelled due to illness, where a cost is incurred to Cochrane, the Governing Board member should notify the CEO as soon as possible so that a refund can be arranged.

16.0 Summary of non-reclaimable expenditure

This list is intended to provide clarification of the key areas outside the scope of legitimate expenses. It is not intended to be exhaustive.

  • Air travel tickets bought for class of travel above policy 
  • First class rail travel unless adhering to the policy 
  • Travel bookings amended for personal reasons
  • Late travel booking premium, where Cochrane scheduling allowed for early booking
  • Car costs beyond mileage or hire/fuel and receipted parking fees.
  • Use of personal car where it would be more cost-effective to travel by rail/air
  • Use of hire car except in exceptional circumstances
  • Travel/accommodation for accompanying individual including upgrade to double/family room
  • Expenditure not related to Cochrane activities
  • Expenditure without appropriate original VAT itemised receipt
  • Receipts addressed to a third party
  • Claims for expenditure submitted more than 3 months after expense
  • Hospitality without prior authorisation of the Chief Executive or Co-Chairs
  • Gratuities and tips (other than those included in a restaurant bill).