Com­pany drags its feet re­im­burs­ing travel ex­penses

The Star Democrat - - COMICS & PUZZLES - To ask Helaine a ques­tion, email her at askhe­[email protected]

Dear Helaine: My hus­band’s job re­quires he at­tend a num­ber of con­fer­ences and work­shops in his field. It’s usu­ally two to four times a year. Not go­ing to these meet­ings is not an op­tion, as it would cer­tainly af­fect his merit re­views and, po­ten­tially, his em­ploy­ment.

His em­ployer will not pro­vide credit cards to pur­chase air­line tick­ets in ad­vance. They ex­pect my hus­band to pay for any ex­pense and then will re­im­burse him af­ter he re­turns. My hus­band sub­mits his re­quest for re­im­burse­ment the first work­ing day af­ter his re­turn. How­ever, his em­ployer can take six to 10 weeks to process the re­im­burse­ment. Inquiries seem to ex­tend the time be­tween the re­quest and ac­tual re­im­burse­ment.

My hus­band is cur­rently wait­ing on re­im­burse­ment for two trips taken at his boss’s re­quest be­tween six and eight weeks ago that rang up $2,789 on our card. Ob­vi­ously, we can’t pay off these credit card charges ev­ery month, so we’re pay­ing in­ter­est on these ex­penses. His em­ployer says they aren’t re­spon­si­ble. What can we do to re­duce the im­pact of busi­ness travel ex­penses on our per­sonal fi­nances? — Un­happy Trav­els Dear Un­happy Trav­els: This is a tough ques­tion. Even in the states where the law re­quires em­ploy­ees be re­im­bursed for ex­penses like the ones your hus­band is rack­ing up, there is no lan­guage in the statutes about what a rea­son­able time frame for re­pay­ment ac­tu­ally is. That be­ing said, it is gen­er­ally cus­tom­ary for com­pa­nies to pay em­ployee ex­penses, once they are sub­mit­ted, within the next pay cy­cle or 30 days.

So where does this leave your spouse? First, can your hus­band ask if his com­pany could make the ar­range­ments, so he doesn’t ac­crue ex­penses for the big-ticket items like flights, con­fer­ence reg­is­tra­tion, ho­tels and the like? If they won’t do that, in the short run, I’d sug­gest your hus­band at­tempt to min­i­mize his ex­penses: buy tick­ets as far in ad­vance as pos­si­ble to save money on flights, stay at a lower-cost ho­tel and so on.

But I’ve got a big­ger piece of ad­vice: I think your hus­band might also con­sider start­ing a search for a new job. At the very least, this be­hav­ior demon­strates a lack of con­sid­er­a­tion for em­ploy­ees, and if these sorts of delays are com­mon, it might also speak to big­ger cor­po­rate fi­nan­cial problems.

HELAINE OLEN

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