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Regular version of the site

FAQ on Reimbursement of Travel Expenses

© Daniil Prokofyev

Starting March 7, HSE University introduced a series of protective measures against the spread of the novel coronavirus. The measures included the ban on international work- or school-related travel. Here are answers to campus members’ most frequently asked questions about reimbursement for cancelled business trips and mobility programmes.

Will I be paid for the days I am in self-isolation?

If you arrange sick leave, the days of your self-isolation will be paid by the Social Insurance Fund in accordance with Russian legislation.

If you are working from home, the days of your self-isolation will be paid as regular working days.

If you have arranged with your supervisor to treat your self-isolation as paid vacation, you will be compensated for your days off in accordance with standard annual vacation compensation protocol.

What should I do if I have a business trip abroad already planned?

If you have already submitted your business trip request and received approval:

If you have already submitted your business trip papers and received approval for international travel in the period from March 7, 2020 to June 30, 2020, your travel approval issued by the HR Department will be automatically cancelled. You and your supervisor will be informed of the cancellation via email.

In order to be reimbursed for your travel expenses, you must immediately contact the service providers (airline, hotel, etc.) with whom you made arrangements and request a refund.

If the provider does not to give you a refund, HSE University will reimburse you for the costs incurred. To be reimbursed, submit an expense report in accordance with standard protocol for the canceled trip with the required supporting documents attached. The expenses will be paid by the unit or programme budget that was originally allocated for it. For this reason, the original designated source of funding for the cancelled trip should be indicated in the expense report.

If you have not yet filed your business trip request paperwork:

If you independently purchased tickets and/or incurred other expenses for a planned international business trip (with a departure date in the period from March 7, 2020 to June 30, 2020), and you did not file a business trip request form before March 7, 2020, you should immediately contact your service providers (airline, hotel, etc.) and request a refund.

If the supplier refuses to give you a refund, HSE University will reimburse employees for their travel costs on a case by case basis as per the decision of a special commission chaired by Vice Rector Alexey Novoseltsev. To apply for reimbursement, fill out a memo addressed to Alexey Novoseltsev and signed by the head of your structural unit. The memo should confirm that the trip was planned and include a request to reimburse the costs incurred (indicating the amount to be reimbursed). Primary documents (which you usually attach to the expense report) and confirmation of the service providers’ refusal to provide you a refund must be attached to the memo.

If the commission rules to reimburse you, the expenses will be compensated from the unit or programme budget that otherwise would have paid the expenses had you filed the business trip paperwork.

The service provider charges a penalty fee for returns. Can these expenses be compensated from the same budget funds that were originally allocated to cover the business trip?

Yes. Please attach the penalty fee payment receipt to your expense claim.

Visa costs are not refundable under any circumstances. Does the employee need to receive a document confirming this, or can compensation for this type of expense be requested only on the basis of primary documents?

Yes, in this case, compensation can be requested on the basis of an existing visa fee receipt. A separate request to the embassy is not required, but it should be noted that the visa fee will be considered for refund only if the visa is issued for a period of less than 6 months.

What is the deadline for submitting reimbursement applications for cancelled international business trip expenses? How do I submit my documents?

If your business trip was approved before March 7, 2020 and then cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak, you can file your expense report using the usual protocol. If you are able to provide the usual required supporting documents, special approval from the commission is not required and you will be reimbursed for the trip as if it took place. The expenses will be paid by the unit or programme budget that was originally allocated for it.

Note that before you submit your expense report to HSE, you should first try to get your funds refunded by the service providers you used for your trip (i.e., airlines, hotels, travel grants, etc.). Cancelled trip expenses will be refunded on the basis of the HSE University order on suspension of business trips issued on March 7, 2020.

The deadline for submitting your expense report to the accounting department is generally within three days of the scheduled departure from Russia. This deadline is extended for employees who are in self-isolation until the end of their isolation period.

If you had to cancel a business trip that was not approved before March 7, 2020, and you have already paid for the trip out of pocket, you may still get reimbursed for expenses that service providers have refused to refund with special approval. In these instances, special approval will be granted by a reimbursement commission headed by Vice Rector Alexey Novoseltsev. Note that you must first try to get a refund from the relevant service providers.

To apply for reimbursement approval by the special commission, you must submit a memo to the head of your department indicating the amount to be reimbursed and the funding source that was originally allocated to the trip. If the commission approves your reimbursement request, the funds will be reimbursed to you from this source. All reimbursement applications must be submitted to the commission by June 30, 2020.

The required documents (the request memo from your department head in addition to the usual expense report and usual supporting primary documents) can be submitted electronically through SDOU (Document Management System) to Vice Rector Alexey Novoseltsev.;

Your documents will be reviewed by the commission after your expense report is reviewed by the accounting office for accuracy as well as by the manager of the originally allocated budget (if different than the applicant’s department). Upon receipt of approval from the commission, the applicant must submit all original documents to the accounting office. Note that reimbursements will only be granted if the applicant can provide original copies of the required invoices and documents.

What should I do to get my mobility costs reimbursed?

To receive a refund, the student must immediately contact any relevant service providers (airline, dormitory, etc.) and request that their payments be refunded.

If the service provider refuses to give a refund, it is necessary to receive a document from the service provider confirming that they will not provide a refund.

If the provider is within its rights not to refund the payment, HSE University may reimburse the student for expenses incurred. A special commission has been established to provide rulings on these cases.

When will the commission begin reviewing reimbursement applications?

The commission will begin reviewing reimbursement applications on March 23. The commission will meet once a week.

Questions regarding applications will be submitted to the next meeting of the commission as soon as the corresponding sets of documents are ready.

The commission will provide decisions in accordance with the following categories:

  • Approved (as per the application);
  • Partially approved (with additional information provided);
  • Rejected (the grounds for refusal are listed below).

In addition, in some cases, the commission may issue a recommendation to the manager of the budget that was originally allocated for the trip to consider additional reimbursement options (e.g., if the event is rescheduled for a later date).

An application may be rejected for the following reasons:

  • the request does not fall within the purview of the committee (e.g., the trip cancellation is not due to reasons related to the coronavirus outbreak);
  • the amount of the request indicated in the memo from the head of the unit is not supported by the expenditure amounts indicated on the supporting primary documents;
  • the application does not include written confirmation from service providers (airlines, hotels, tour operators, etc.) stating that they will not refund the expenses;
  • the travel request was approved by March 7, 2020 (in which case, approval by the special commission is unnecessary, and the expense report must be submitted to the accounting office in accordance with usual protocol).

The commission may wholly or partially reject reimbursement applicaitons for the following reasons:

  • the trip budget manager did not confirm information regarding the originally allocated funds for the trip (including the approved amount and dates);
  • written approval for the funds originally designated for the trip prior to the applicant’s application to the commission is either not included or was never obtained in the first place;
  • the application does not include documents confirming that the employee paid trip expenses in advance.

Applicants can check SDOU to find out:

  • whether their applications have been rejected for review by the commission, and if so, by what grounds. This notification will be available within three days of submitting the application (starting March 23);
  • whether their application is included on the agenda of the upcoming commission meeting. This notification will be available within three days of a positive review of the application by the accounting office;
  • whether the commission has approved, partially approved, or rejected the application. This notification will appear within three days of the meeting at which the decision was made.
How do I find out whether my application was approved or rejected?

After consideration by the commission, memos with the appropriate resolution will be sent via SDOU for execution to the accounting department with simultaneous notification to the applicant. In the case of a positive resolution of the commission, the applicant must provide a full set of original documents (the official memo from the department head, the expense report signed by the employee, and all necessary supporting documents) to the accounting office (which is located at Krivokolenny pereulok, 3, room 414k for employees of HSE’s Moscow campus).

If you have any questions about the special commission’s review process, please contact the Enge Iskhakova, Commission Secretary and Assistant to Vice Rector Alexey Novoseltsev. If you have questions about whether your application documents are completed correctly, please contact Larisa Pirskaya or Elena Kravtsova at the accounting office. If you have questions about how to provide documentation confirming the originally allocated source of funding for your travel expenses, contact the department head or administrator of the appropriate university programme.

If my application is approved, when will I receive my reimbursement?

Applicants whose applications have been approved will receive their reimbursement payment within 5 working days after they have submitted the required original documents (the official memo from the department head, the expense report signed by the employee, and all necessary supporting documents) to the accounting office.

The funds will be automatically deposited into the employee’s bank account (the same account in which his or her salary is usually deposited). Reimbursement payments can also be received in cash at the HSE cashier’s desk if an applicant wishes. In this case, the applicant must indicate this on their application.

March 18, 2020