Procedures

Hospitality - Procedures

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1. Purpose and Objectives

The purpose of these procedures is to specify when the provision of hospitality is appropriate and the accountability that is required for these activities.

2. Definitions, Terms, Acronyms

Hospitality - includes:

1. the provision of meals or refreshments to persons who are visiting the University for business reasons;

2. the organisation of other functions which further the objectives of the University; or

3. the entertainment of individuals at special events conducted at the University or other locations.

3. Procedures Scope/Coverage

These procedures apply to the staff, contractors, and students of the University, and its controlled entities, where University funds are being used for the provision of hospitality. 

4. Procedures Statement

The University is a Queensland Statutory Body and is required to comply with the Financial Accountability Act 2009 and the Financial and Performance Management Standard 2009, both of which specify guidelines for the provision of hospitality.

The University recognises that the provision of hospitality can result in significant benefits to the institution, particularly in promoting the University as a whole and the activities of the various faculties, schools, institutes and other units.

Expenditure on hospitality:

  • must be for official purposes;
  • must not be excessive;
  • should be able to withstand public scrutiny;
  • must be incurred for a specific outcome that can be demonstrated to be of benefit to the University.

These outcomes should be documented at the time of approval.

Appropriate documentation to substantiate expenditure for hospitality (and for Fringe Benefits Tax purposes) must be maintained.

Approval should be obtained prior to the incurrence of all expenditure and for substantiation purposes. The financial delegate approving expenditure must be satisfied that the expenditure incurred, or to be incurred, is in relation to official duties, is reasonable and is publicly defensible.

The primary responsibility for determining the extent to which University resources are applied for this purpose rests with the Senior Executive, Executive Deans and Heads of School or equivalent authority.

The expectation is that hospitality will occur at venues on the various campuses of the University, although the provision of hospitality off campus or at a staff member's home is not precluded.

Hospitality should not be a substitute for business meetings which would ordinarily be conducted in the workplace.

Expenditure for the sole purpose of entertaining University staff is not permitted unless otherwise exempted in these procedures. Approval must be sought in advance from a staff member’s supervisor if there is any doubt about whether expenditure is appropriate.

5. Approvals

Expenditure on hospitality must be approved in advance by a supervisor with the appropriate financial delegation.

Authorising Officer

Benefit Accountability

Limit

The Vice-Chancellor, Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor, the Deputy Vice-Chancellors, Chief Operating Officer, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and the Executive Deans

Need to identify the benefit to the wider University or the Faculty.

Unlimited

Heads of Schools, Major Divisions and equivalent authority

Need to identify the benefit to the University, the School or the particular unit.

$2,000

The costs of hospitality can be charged to research accounts only if the conditions of the grant allow such expenditure. If the conditions of a research grant allow expenditure on hospitality, all other guidelines outlined in this policy will apply.

6. Receiving Hospitality

When accepting hospitality, care should be taken to avoid any possible conflict of interest. It is particularly important that such situations should not be perceived or construed as providing an incentive for any commercial transactions. Refer to PPL 9.10.05 Reportable Gifts for further information.

7. Fringe Benefits Tax

Fringe Benefits Tax is imposed on certain hospitality expenditure at the currently applicable rate. The tax is applied to that portion of the hospitality expenditure which relates to the provision of meals, refreshments, etc. to University staff or associates (i.e. partners or spouses).

For information regarding the treatment of Fringe Benefits Tax as it applies to hospitality expenditure is set out in PPL 9.65.02 FBT.

8. Types of Approved Hospitality Expenditure

8.1 Staff attendance at official functions

Expenditure for official functions is permitted when:

  • the number of staff attending official functions is limited to those with a direct involvement in the business being conducted; that is, only those who will be able to advance the University’s business.
  • the number of staff attending comprise a minor or balanced proportion to external representatives. It should be exceptional that the number of University attendees exceeds the number of external attendees.

8.2 Corporate entertainment

The University may participate in events or enter into arrangements which provide the opportunity to host and extend entertainment (which may or may not involve the provision of hospitality) to invited guests.

Examples of such entertainment are:

  • Hosting in “corporate boxes” at sporting or cultural events;
  • Hosting at functions such as special dinners, receptions, performances or other major events being conducted in the city or at a University location.

Participation in corporate entertainment activities should only be arranged where there is a clear benefit to be obtained for the University, such as the facilitation of sponsorship for University activities or as part of fund-raising projects.

It is expected that the participation in and expenditure of University funds on events and arrangements should satisfy the test that “the approving officer should be comfortable in disclosing the cost of the entertainment and hospitality given, should that be required, and be able to identify the benefit to the University”.

When guest lists are being compiled, the following guidelines should be followed:

  • Invitees must be individuals who it is believed will contribute to the University’s objectives.
  • The number of invitees must exceed the number of University staff who are attending as hosts.
  • Spouses and partners of principal invitees and University staff hosts may be included on guest lists if the circumstances of the event indicate this.

Records of the guest lists associated with the provision of entertainment of this type must be kept for scrutiny if required.

8.3 Tipping

The addition of tips or gratuities to the account in a hospitality situation is not encouraged and should only be done in exceptional circumstances. However, it is recognised that tipping is the normal custom in some areas of the world and, in those situations, an appropriate tip or gratuity may be given.

8.4 Grey areas

The following categories of expenditure should not normally be charged against any University funds:

  • Functions of a purely social nature;
  • Farewells to retiring staff.

However, it is recognised that there may be circumstances where the University might make a contribution to the cost of these functions. Approval for expenditure of University funds, in these cases, should be sought from one of the officers nominated in Section 5 of these procedures.

It is also recognised that, on occasions, functions are arranged which only involve the participation of University staff and the provision of hospitality is incidental to the primary purpose of the function. The primary purpose of these functions must be to further the aims and objectives of the University or the particular unit and a statement outlining the circumstances should be attached to the financial documentation.

This section is not referring to meals and refreshments provided at courses, seminars or forums arranged for the training and development of staff or for the general engagement of staff in the administration and management of the University.

9. Limits on Expenditure

Hospitality expenses must be incurred against Operating Funds unless specifically provided for under the terms and conditions governing expenditure of other funds (for example, research grants).

Although the cost of hospitality varies depending upon the venue and nature of the function, staff are required to minimise expenditure.

Where the expenditure relates to official functions involving formal dining, an amount up to the amount in the Australian Tax Office Table 3 of Reasonable Meal Allowance Expense amounts may be used as a guide.

10. Substantiation Requirements

A recognised purchasing method (i.e. Corporate Credit Card, Travel Card or Purchase Order) is to be used to pay for hospitality. Regardless of the payment method (travel cards excepted):

  • adequate declarations and documentation must be provided to support expenditure. As a minimum requirement, the following items must be kept for any expenditure on hospitality or entertainment:

o   explanation of University purpose;

o   hospitality calculator;

o   name of all persons attending and external organisations represented;

o   name of all University staff attending.

Custodians
Chief Financial Officer
Mr Andrew Betts