Entertainment, Gifts, Floral, Recruitment & Travel
(Last Updated 07/11/2016)
The purpose of this document is to provide guidance as to current practice within the School of Medicine in reviewing expenditures, granting exceptions, and to reduce the number of instances where there are misunderstandings.
University policy requires that entertainment expenditures over $50 be treated as exceptional and receive explicit “Dean’s” approval. In the School of Medicine, expenditures between $50 and $750 are delegated to departmental chairmen, business managers and an alternate designated by the business manager. It is understood that approvals at the departmental level will conform to the guidelines within the University policy statement and those below.
Meals for employees are not normally reimbursed. Exceptions are approved for scheduled meetings held during meal times, for example monthly departmental meetings. Please state the Medical School related business reason for the meeting when reimbursement is requested. General statements such as “Department Meeting” or “Office Meeting” are not accepted. Please code these costs using budget/object 3553 or if catered use 3550.
Employee morale building functions
It has been the practice to approve expenditures for two formal recognition events held in the department for each group of employees. These do not include school-wide Employee Appreciation Day or the University Length of Service Award Program. At the discretion of the department, these functions may be held at the department, division, or office level. If a function is held at one level, expenditures for a similar function at another level for the same group of employees will not be reimbursed, so please clearly state the departmental practice. Inclusion of non-employees, such as residents, fellows, students and others who are employees of affiliated institutions and the inclusion of spouses will not be questioned but needs to be stated when requesting payments or reimbursement. The total amount for the function, including rentals, decorations and entertainment should not exceed $100, or $125 with the explicit written authorization of the Department Head for academic departments and programs, or applicable Associate Dean for administrative areas. Gift certificates or other items given to those unable to attend will be approved in amounts not to exceed $50 per person. A copy of approved requests will be forwarded to disbursements. Gifts, prizes or awards have also been approved at morale building functions. Note that the recipient of the prize must be reported. Each item will be reviewed for reasonableness and most will be reported as taxable by the University.
Farewell/Retirement receptions costing up to $100 per person may be held for an employee who is leaving the University with three or more years of service or for doctoral and postdoctoral trainees who have completed their training.
Gifts up to $500 for the person leaving the University may be authorized for faculty and director level and above staff members who have been with the University for more than three years. Otherwise, gifts are limited to $100 for 3-10 years of service and $250 for more than 10 years of service. Gifts of $400 and above will be reported as taxable by the University. Please provide the name of the employee and the number of years the employee has worked in the Department and the University and the title or job function. Except for the cases above, reimbursement expenses are limited to less than $10/per person for cake and punch, or other refreshment costs.
Graduation dinners for residents and fellows are held to the same guidelines for functions associated with recruitment. Any event that exceeds $100 per person, but less than $150 per person, must be explicitly approved by the Department Chairman. A written request and explanation must be submitted to the Dean for events costing more than $150 per person. It is possible that costs above the $150 per person will be considered a personal expense and not reimbursed by the university.
Gratuities are reviewed for reasonableness. In general, gratuities above 20% will be questioned. If the invoice states that a gratuity has already been added, significant additional gratuities are to be justified.
Often it is possible to have catering and larger group functions paid by University purchase order and arrangements made to avoid payment of sales tax.
Receptions following lectures are routinely approved. The amount per person will be reviewed for reasonableness but should not exceed $75 per person. Indicate the name of the lecturer and the title of the presentation when requesting reimbursement or payments. Dinners with visiting lecturers and their spouses are also approved subject to the limits above under recruitment. If the visitor’s spouse is in attendance, reimbursement for University spouses is approved.
A limit of $75 per person is to be applied to thesis defense events.
Gifts and floral
Floral purchases or gifts have been approved where the employee is hospitalized or home recovering from a serious illness, to celebrate births of children of the employee, marriage of the employee or if there is a death in the employee’s immediate family. “Immediate family” is defined in the University’s Funeral Leave Policy. Such purchases are not to be reimbursed when sent to someone other than the employee with the exception of memorial gifts in the event of the death of the employee. Gifts are reviewed for reasonableness and most will be reported as taxable by the University. Please provide the name of the employee and the reason. Sending flowers to faculty or staff members in another department is not allowed. This policy may be applied to a department’s non-employee group, such as clinical fellows, or post-docs., but this must be clearly stated on the request for reimbursement.
Floral arrangements and similar gifts as expressions of thanks for work done by an employee are not a reimbursed expenditure. Thank you gifts are approved for non-employees who provide services to the University without compensation. Please provide the name of the recipient and their relationship to the University including type of service rendered. Gifts will be reviewed for reasonableness and most will be reported as taxable by the University.
Recruitment luncheons and dinners are reimbursed. University policy provides for reimbursement for spouses only if the candidate’s spouse is in attendance. Exceptions may be made where appropriate, for example, where a female candidate is being interviewed and no female faculty are available who would be colleagues of the person being recruited. Receptions and dinners to introduce a new faculty member and spouse to the other members of the department are also approved. The names of those in attendance are required.
Functions associated with recruitment, or any event that exceeds $100 per person, but less than $150 per person, must be explicitly approved by the Department Chairman. A written request and explanation must be submitted to the Dean for events costing more than $150 per person. It is possible the costs above the $150 per person will be considered a personal expense and not reimbursed by the university
A limit of $75 per applicant per evening applies to recruitment of students (applicants and student hosts). This includes dinner and entertainment, but excludes overnight lodging. For the purpose of this policy, “Student” includes clinical fellows, clinical trainees, residents, graduate students and post-doctoral trainees.
Travel must be approved by a person other than the traveler. In the School of Medicine, approval is by the next level up, with the exception of academic department heads and academic program directors. Department Chairmen and Program Directors travel must be approved by the Executive Vice Chancellor and Dean. The Business Manager’s travel must be approved by the Department Chairman or academic Program Director. Travel of the directors of non-academic departments must be approved by the Assistant or Associate Dean to whom they report.
It is often difficult for those processing travel reimbursement to determine the amount of reimbursement due when families travel with the employee. If the hotel receipt shows greater than single occupancy, indicate the single occupancy rate that would have applied. Charges incurred by or on behalf of a spouse or family members are not reimbursable.
The lists above are intended to provide guidance. They are not intended to be all inclusive. Washington University has a national reputation and guards its image as a careful steward of charitable and public funds. You can help in this area by making sure that entertainment expenditures are reasonable and properly coded (entertainment is normally charged to budget/object code 3553).
If there are questions, please contact either Alicia Washington (314-747-0462) or your senior budget analyst before the expenditure is made. They will seek clarification where there aren’t clear policies or precedents.