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Money Moral Dilemma: Should I tell HR that I'm now able to approve my own work expenses?

MSE_Kelvin Posts: 352 MSE Staff
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This week's MoneySaver who wants advice asks...

My boss is off work with a long-term illness, and responsibility for approving leave and expenses for his team has fallen to me. I submitted overtime hours for work I did over Easter using our HR system, and they came straight back to me to approve. My instinct is to point this out to payroll and avoid any conflict of interest. But moving these approvals to someone else could take months - my employer is quite slow with stuff like that - and in the meantime, I won't get paid for my overtime or expenses. What should I do?  

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  • tacpot12
    tacpot12 Posts: 8,227 Forumite
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    I would recommend that you don't approve these expenses. You will be breaking an internal financial control policy if you do. You need to raise it with HR as an URGENT issue and I would dig your heels in and say that you will not do any work that would require you to raise expenses - so no travel anywhere.

    You need to make it their problem to get the system changed quickly. It's the work of a moment to do it, the issue will be finding a manager that will take responsibility. Logically this HAS to be your manager's manager, but if they are being an ar*se you might need to take it to the next level. You could ask them now if they support this approach. If they do, you can tell HR that X has agreed they will approve your expenses if you approve the rest of the teams. 

    You will be stuffed if they have an inflexible system that only allows the whole team's approvals to be moved to the next manager up - they won't want the extra responsibility, but if they are to let you do it, get it in writing that you are allowed to do it, and approve your own expenses AFTER you have reviewed them with your manager's manager and go them to sign and date a photocopy of the receipts to show that they saw them before you approved them.    

    The comments I post are my personal opinion. While I try to check everything is correct before posting, I can and do make mistakes, so always try to check official information sources before relying on my posts.
  • middleclassbutpoor
    I would simply reach out to the boss of your boss -  or perhaps the person who runs the finance team who has mandate to approve such payments. 

    A simple email to explain the problem and the need to have expenses reimbursed in a timely manner is important to you.

    If the process to make the system work is likely to take months as you suspect, perhaps the suggestion that you email your expense details to someone who can give you the approval to approve your own expenses?  That email is then retained and CC'd into your boss or the finance team for record?
  • Spendless
    Spendless Posts: 24,232 Forumite
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    This is what initially led to us having debt. In the early days my DH had to use his own CC for works expenses. They'd take months to be authorised and refunded, we couldn't afford to pay the CC bill  in full ourselves as we had 2 young children and I wasn't working (and was unable to find employment  around the hours of husband's work and it was these hours that meant he had these expenses). It was a huge sigh of relief when eventually he got a company cc.

    So though I see you dilemma if it's going to cause you financial issues I would just send an email saying something along the lines of 'Just making you aware that since my boss ,name. is off expenses are coming through to myself to be signed off this includes me authorising my own expenses'  I'd then make sure I kept copies of all receipts etc relating to any expenses I'd authorised for myself. I'd also check through any ts and cs your company has to make sure you're not going against any rules.
  • in_need_of_direction
    i'd raise it because, with the best will in the world, people rarely see their own mistakes.  getting someone else involved in the process will help protect you
    Mortgage at 01.01.14 £119,481.83:eek: today £0 Emergency fund £5.5/5.5k & £200/200 cash.:jWeight 24/02/19 14st 7lb now 11st 10lb determined to stop defining myself by my mistakes. Progress not perfection.:T100%through my 1% mortgage challenge. 60% through my pb challenge.
  • Redshell
    Redshell Posts: 6 Forumite
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    I would definitely get in touch with HR straight away, surely they can put an interim arrangement in place to sign expenses off while they arrange to transfer to another appropriate manager. I would not in any circumstances approve your own, you will probably find this breaches finance and HR policies and could result in disciplinary action or even loss of your job. 
  • CapricornLass
    No, you must not sign your own expense and overtime claims.  As Redshell says, get back in touch with HR straight away, and speak to one of the managers too, rather than ordinary rank and file as managers should have the clout to get something pushed through urgently.  I would also ask if you could have an advance against the expenses if they won't authorise it/find someone else to sign immediately- it might just focus their minds a bit and there's no harm in asking if these are substantial and non-payment will cause financial hardship.  Advances on overtime may be pushing it a bit, though!
    Sealed Pot Challenge no 035. Fashion on the Ration: 34/66 coupons spent.
  • consumers_revenge
    conflict of interest and segregation of duties.

    either can drop you in it.

    mind you I did used to have to pay mileage expenses to a driver called caroline ash once in the good old days so I was writing out cheques to CASH and my manager would approve them. still makes me chuckle.
  • Rain30
    They should have a way for someone else to approve your claims. Even though your claims are valid, it could be seen as misconduct. They’ll be glad you let them know. 
  • daivid
    daivid Posts: 1,263 Forumite
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    Who approved the boss’s overtime/travel? 
  • bikaga
    bikaga Posts: 162 Forumite
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    escalate to your boss's boss (unless they're the CEO and you're the deputy, in which case find someone on your level). They can then pass it on to HR and follow up. Definitely don't approve your own overtime, that can get you into a lot of trouble.
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