Travel Policy

Document Number000782
Date Approved3 August 2006


1. Introduction:

The University of Newcastle recognises that travel is often an integral part of the work of the staff and students of the University.  This policy is designed to ensure the University:

(i) fulfils its duty of care obligations to University travellers;

(ii) makes the most efficient use of its resources in the travel booking and fulfillment process;

(iii) ensures the consistent and fair treatment of all travellers and administrative staff involved in the travel process and

(iv) maintains accurate records.

This policy applies to all domestic and international travel arrangements of university  travellers on approved University business regardless of: the source of funds, the duration of travel, or the purpose of travel.

This Policy must be read in conjunction with the Procedure for Travel Inconvenience Allowance; the Procedure for Acquittable Cash Advance and the related policies, procedures and guidelines listed under: Essential Supporting Documents below.

2. Policy Intent:

To govern the circumstances under which travel is organised and undertaken by University travellers.

3. Relevant Definitions:

Best Fare of the Day:

the lowest available fare on the day of booking  that offers the traveller the convenience and flexibility he/she requires to complete the business purpose effectively.
 

High Risk Country:

any country to which the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) advisories warn travellers to “reconsider” or “advise not to” travel.
 

EC:

Executive Committee as defined at the time by the Vice-Chancellor
 

University Business:

work undertaken on behalf of the University for purposes directly associated with the functions of the University.
 

University Traveller:

anyone who travels on behalf of the University of Newcastle on pre-approved University business, booked or arranged by the University, including, but not limited to:

  • staff - including casuals;
  • persons accompanying staff who are representing or engaged in University business eg OSPRO;
  • associates, including members of Council;
  • consultants and contractors; 
  • students;
  • conjoint appointees travelling on University business funded (partially or in full) by University funds, and
  • other persons and/or visitors whose travel is associated with and paid by the University.
University:

the University of Newcastle excluding its controlled entities.

4. Policy Principles:

4.1.     Use of contracted supplier

All travel quotations/bookings associated with travel on University business must only be sourced/made through the University’s contracted travel management company (i) via the contracted travel management company’s online travel system and (ii) using the best fare of the day.

The University will not guarantee the payment of invoices for travel (i) booked or arranged through other (non-contracted) travel management companies, (ii) booked direct with airlines, or (iii) incurred by individuals.

Refer Travel Procedure:

http://www.newcastle.edu.au/policylibrary/000787.html

4.2.     Pre-Approval

All travel must be pre-approved by a delegated officer prior to ticketing. Travel must not under any circumstances be authorised by the traveller.

University staff members who are requesting travel approval will ensure that arrangements are made to cover their teaching, examining and administrative duties during the approved absence. 

Where such arrangements cannot be made, travel will not be approved.

Refer Travel Procedure for pre-approval process:

http://www.newcastle.edu.au/policylibrary/000787.html

4.3.     Class of Travel

The authorised standard for air travel on University business is Economy Class. 

Members of the Executive Committee (EC) may travel business class on international flights and domestic flights. 

The approval of the Vice-Chancellor or relevant Deputy Vice-Chancellor is required to make bookings at higher than Economy Class for all other travellers.

Upgrades will be paid for from personal funds and/or from external support.

4.4.     Ground & Sea Transportation:

The choice of ground and sea transportation will be made on the basis of what is the most efficient, safe and cost effective means of transportation in the country or area.

4.5.     Travel by Private Vehicle

University travellers will use public transport, University vehicles (including package vehicles for senior staff package holders), or hire cars before using private vehicles for University business travel. 

Refer Travel Procedure re approval process:

http://www.newcastle.edu.au/policylibrary/000787.html

4.6.     Accommodation:

Accommodation will provide a safe and secure environment, be convenient to the place of work, and provide value for money.

Refer Travel Procedure:

http://www.newcastle.edu.au/policylibrary/000787.html

4.7.     Entertainment & Hospitality:

University travellers are expected to exercise due economy when providing hospitality or entertainment for guests and visitors.  Hospitality and/or entertainment must at all times have a clear business purpose. 

4.8.     Traveller Health & Safety and Duty of Care:

The University’s primary responsibility is to protect the safety and well being of all persons travelling on University business. 

All University travellers and travel approvers are required to check the DFAT website http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/ at the time of booking and – in the case of travellers – prior to travel, to establish whether there are any travel advisories or warnings that apply to intended travel destinations.   Staff are under no obligation to undertake any international travel that conflicts with DFAT advice. 

The Vice-Chancellor may -  where the safety of travellers is at risk -  impose a complete travel ban to certain countries/regions and may require University travellers already in those areas to return home.

Travel to high risk countries will require approval from the Vice-Chancellor and/or Deputy Vice-Chancellor(s). Refer Travel Procedure:

http://www.newcastle.edu.au/policylibrary/000787.html

The University has a duty to ensure that it is aware of the whereabouts of its travelling staff so that it can contact and provide assistance to such staff in the event of an emergency or other incident.  Use of the University’s contracted travel management company will facilitate this.

4.9.     Payment for & Acquittal of Travel Services:

The University utilises a corporate purchasing/credit card to pay for travel and related entertainment expenses. Where possible, payment and acquittal for all travel services are to be made via the corporate purchasing card through the University’s contracted Travel Management Company.

Refer Purchasing Card Policy:

http://www.newcastle.edu.au/policylibrary/000495.html

4.10.   Reimbursement and Substantiation:

Where travellers are unable to use a corporate purchasing card they may incur personal expenses for which they receive reimbursement.

Staff are to ensure that all reimbursements are reasonable and business related.

Refer Travel Procedure:

http://www.newcastle.edu.au/policylibrary/000787.html

 

4.11.   Acquittable Cash Advance:

In certain circumstances the University will offer staff travelling overseas, an acquittable cash advance prior to travel.

Cash Advances will only be provided in the following circumstances:

  • Where the staff member travelling has obtained pre-approval to travel overseas and has or will receive a University purchasing card prior to departure;
  • Where the traveller provides adequate justification to their Pro Vice Chancellor or Deputy Vice Chancellor that:

(i) the University Corporate Card cannot be used for some travel expenses; and

(ii) the total of those expenses is such that using the University’s online reimbursement processes would cause financial hardship.

Cash advances may, in exceptional circumstances and at the discretion of the relevant Pro Vice-Chancellor or Deputy Vice Chancellor, be made available to University travellers other than staff.

The maximum and minimum amounts generally obtainable for a cash advance for a single trip are specified in Schedule 1.  Special arrangements may be made available for staff involved in international recruitment, traveling to remote areas.

Acquittable cash advances are not available for domestic travel.

All cash advances are fully acquittable and non-taxable.

Refer Acquittable Cash Advance Procedure for details regarding access to and management of Cash Advances:

http://www.newcastle.edu.au/policylibrary/000789.html

4.12.   Additional cash access (companion cards)

Companion cards (credit cards) providing for direct access to ATM cash withdrawals may be made available to certain staff who travel extensively as a required part of their employment with the University.  

All expenses incurred on these cards are to be fully acquitted within one month of return from the relevant trip.

4.13.   Travel Inconvenience Allowance

The University may provide a non-acquittable Travel Inconvenience Allowance for certain staff whom the University directs to travel and for whom such travel is not a normal part of their conditions of employment.

The Travel Inconvenience Allowance is provided to compensate for various inconveniences and costs associated with travelling for extended periods of time on behalf of the University.

Recipients of a Travel Inconvenience Allowance are still entitled to use a University Purchasing Card, and/or claim reimbursements, and receive an acquittable cash advance.

The Travel Inconvenience Allowance will be paid at the rate specified in Schedule 1 for each day (including weekends)  of the business related portion of an overseas trip.

The staff member will not need to substantiate expenses relating to this allowance. The allowance is a taxable payment and will appear on the staff member’s payment summary.

A staff member will generally not be entitled to access the allowance for the following types of travel:

  • domestic travel
  • travel which is part of a staff member’s normal conditions of employment  – including travel undertaken by:
    • members of TEC
    • members of the International Office,
    • staff of ELFS.
  • travel undertaken by staff where another form of remuneration for comparable costs is received (eg additional payment for offshore teaching).
  • Travel undertaken by staff who:
    • are not directed by the University to travel;
    • are on OSPRO; or
    • are undertaking professional development and/or attending conferences.

Approval of a Travel Inconvenience Allowance rests with the relevant Pro Vice-Chancellor or Deputy Vice-Chancellor. Usage will be periodically reviewed.

Refer Travel Inconvenience Allowance Procedure for details of accessing and managing this policy provision:

http://www.newcastle.edu.au/policylibrary/000788.html

4.14.   Travel Diaries

Travel diaries must be maintained for all international journeys and domestic journeys of more than 5 days duration. This requirement extends to where part of the period of travel connected with University business is non-business related/private.

This is a requirement for compliance with Australian Tax Office Fringe Benefits Tax regulations. 

Refer Travel Procedure:

http://www.newcastle.edu.au/policylibrary/000787.html

4.15.   Alternate Funding Sources:

Personal or private travel (non University business) may be permitted in conjunction with pre-approved business travel, provided: (i) the purpose of the travel is properly documented prior to the commencement of travel, and (ii) the absence is convenient to the department/unit. 

Only costs of travelling to and from the destination and related costs incurred whilst the staff member is conducting University business will be covered by the University. 

4.16.   Frequent Flyer Programs & Lounge Memberships:

The University will not generally fund airline frequent flyer program memberships or memberships to airline clubs (eg Qantas Club). 

5. Essential Supporting Documents:

6. Related Documents:

Approval AuthorityVice-Chancellor
Date Approved3 August 2006
Policy SponsorDeputy Vice-Chancellor (Services)
Policy OwnerDirector, Corporate Services
Policy ContactCommercial Relationship Manager (Travel)
Amendment History

Amended Policy Owner 24 March 2010