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Travel Policies: Purpose and Principles

Why travel policies at Calvin?

Purpose of the travel policy

This travel policy exists primarily for three reasons. The first is to ensure that Calvin's budgeted travel dollars are spent as effectively as possible. To accomplish this end, various procedures are prescribed through which Calvin can utilize its buying power to secure preferred rates and optimal arrangements. Calvin's policy to use just one travel agency, for example, enables that agency to compile Calvin's travel statistics and use that information to secure for us preferred status with various travel service providers. Our policies also equip our travel agency staff with the parameters they need to ensure that Calvin's travel dollars are spent consistently campus-wide.

A second important purpose for having a college travel policy is to ensure institutional compliance with federal regulations regarding what the Internal Revenue Service prescribes under their "accountable plan" rules. The IRS requires that accountable plans include all three of the following elements:

  • expenses must have a business purpose;
  • there must be an adequate accounting by the employee to the employer for these expenses;
  • excess cash advances or reimbursements must be returned within a reasonable period of time.

Failure to comply with these requirements will result in an employee having to claim as personal income the costs incurred by the college for his or her business-related travel. While this may appear to be burdensome and bureaucratic, this process is nonetheless a requisite for compliance with federal income tax regulations. For more information regarding accountable plan rules go to this URL: IRS Publication 463 and refer to Chapter 6 of that document.

Finally, the most important purpose for having a college travel policy is to ensure the safety of our students, faculty and staff. Requiring driver safety training, paying attention to travel warnings in different countries, and setting standards for conduct while traveling will help us protect lives and uphold the college's reputation.

Principles for establishing college travel policy

Calvin's travel policies are designed:

  • to reflect the college's mission and culture. Therefore, keeping in mind Proverbs 30:7-9 – "Give me neither poverty nor riches..." and the theology of John Calvin – "Give me neither asceticism nor self-indulgence”, college personnel should travel with cheerful moderation. Choose meals, accommodations and other travel necessities that fall in the responsible middle between threadbare and opulent. In short, use good judgment.
  • to be cognizant of the conflict that sometimes exists between the use of the traveler's personal/family time and the most cost-effective options for spending college funds;
  • to be guidelines for the effective stewardship of Calvin's budgeted travel dollars;
  • with a presumption that travel is for legitimate business purposes – the responsibility for validating legitimacy of travel rests upon the individual and his/her supervisor/chair;
  • to be consistent with the Rules of Conduct and Working Relationships as written in the Employee Handbook for Non-Faculty.