14 Treasury and Trade Solutions Meals As organizations trend towards more trusting and open policies, they are allowing employees to decide how much to spend on meals by shifting to a “spend what you feel is reasonable approach,” which works as long as the organization does not have to comply with regulatory meal caps. For unregulated companies, allowing employees to determine how much to spend on meals is a reasonable approach as long as it is complimented with a “trust but verify” mindset to identify expenditures that might be out of the ordinary. It is important to carefully manage meal spend, as it is continues to be one of the larger expense categories in business travel. In 2018, 17.2% of receipts captured by Certify were meals related, coming in as the number one expense category of all expense transactions that year ($3.3B) 9 . Alcohol Safety and security should be considered in connection with policy related to alcohol expenditures and reimbursement amounts should be examined closely. From a duty of care perspective, alcohol consumption can create potential employer liability tied to harassment and negligence complaints. Employers should take steps to mitigate overconsumption of alcohol during working meals or when entertaining clients, thereby helping to prevent accidents or misconduct. The following guidance or rules should be considered in the travel policy: • Safe consumption guidelines • Prohibition of underage employees consuming alcohol at corporate events • Requirement to assign a designated driver • Employees can request a reimbursable taxi or rideshare home if needed From a reimbursement perspective, caps on the number of alcoholic beverages allowed at a meal should be aligned with safe consumption guidelines. Per Diems The use of per diems in travel programs, and the per diem rates themselves, can vary considerably. Organizations commonly using per diems are in the public sector or are regulated businesses, such as life science companies that are subject to meal cap limits for Health Care Providers (HCPs). Other organizations with tighter policies have adopted per diems as a way to provide guidelines to employees on how much to spend on meals when traveling. As companies shift away from meal caps as defined in per diems, it is important to keep in mind the tax implications of per diems on a country by country basis. In many countries, there is a statutory requirement to reduce per diem allowances paid to travelers where a meal is provided to them. Examples include a complimentary breakfast in the hotel room rate or lunch provided during a training course or meeting. These meal deductions can be stipulated by the local government, with fixed amounts to be deducted for each meal, per location. Be sure to work with the appropriate internal resources within your organization to identify the tax exposure your employees might face based on local laws. 9 ”2018 Year in Review: Travel and Expense Management Trends,” Certify , https://bit.ly/2VVYjo6.