There are limited situations in which meals incurred by employees who are not on overnight travel status may be reimbursed. In such instances, reimbursement will be on an actual cost basis as evidenced by a receipt (including tax and customary gratuity) up to the applicable maximum per meal entitlement amount in OFM 10.90.10. For such meals to be authorized, the employee must be conducting official business for the College; generally at the request of the College and at a location other than the employee’s official work station.
These types of allowable meals fall into three categories: 1) the three-hour rule, 2) meals with meetings, and 3) emergency situations. When reimbursed for these types of meals, employees are encouraged to consult with IRS guidelines as to the taxation of these meal payments.
The College seeks full compliance with the most current guidelines published in the Office of Financial Management (OFM) policy and procedure manuals.
Reimbursement for meals while the employee is not on overnight travel status will be allowed under the following circumstances:
A. The Three-Hour Rule: SAAM 10.40.50
- The traveler must be in travel status for three hours beyond their regularly scheduled work day to be eligible. The three hours may be any combination of time both before and after the traveler’s regularly scheduled working hours for the day.
- The traveler must be in travel status during the entire meal period, as defined by College policy.
- The traveler may not stop for a meal just to meet the three hour rule.
- In addition to the other requirements of OFM, the total number of consecutive hours worked in a day must exceed nine hours.
Meal reimbursements provided under the three-hour rule are considered taxable benefits and will be included with the employee’s next available payroll.
B. Meals with Meetings: OFM 70.15.10
- The purpose of the meeting must be to conduct official College business or to provide training to College employees, and
- The meals are an integral part of the business meeting or training session, and
- The meeting or training session takes place away from the employee’s regular workplace, and
- The President or authorized designee must approve payment for the meal in advance of the meeting, in writing.
- Even if a meeting seems otherwise eligible per the requirements above, reimbursement is still prohibited for:
- Anniversaries of the College, receptions for new, existing, and/or retiring employees, election celebrations, etc., and
- Any “hosting” or lobbying activities. See OFM 70.15.20 for more details.
- Documentation for meals with meetings must include a meeting agenda which lists the meal as a working part of the meeting.
C. Emergency Situations:
- When the President or authorized designee determines that an employee performing critical College functions must remain at their work station, meals may be provided to the extent necessary for them to perform their emergency duties.
- By the nature of this situation, preauthorization is not possible so the only documentation necessary is for the President or designee to sign the employee’s expense reimbursement voucher (A-19).