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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 50469
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor
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Madam, I would greatly appreciate if you could

Customer Question

Dear Sir/Madam,
I would greatly appreciate if you could give me an indication if I have enough of a case to take my legal matter further via e.g. a solicitor.
I have worked for my current employer (large IT company) for 5 years. During this time During this time I have been submitting expense claims on a semi-regular basis with no problem.
However, I am currently in a conflict regarding a recent expense claim. The company has decided not to pay my expenses due to late submission (3 month policy). But here is what actually happened.
I submitted by expense claim on time (same month as incurred). However, I had forgotten to attach one receipt. For that reason it was rejected by the system (fair enough). The issue however is that I was never informed that my expense claim had been rejected. By the time I found out I straight away attached the missing receipt and resubmitted the expense claim. However, it was now +3 months since the expenses were incurred. For that reason the system declined my expense report again saying it was submitted too late.
My opinion is that this is not at all fair. I did submit on time, albeit with one receipt missing. I was never informed that it was rejected and only found out the next time I logged into the system, by which time it was too late to resubmit (+3 months had past). I don't think this is fair and transparent. If they employer decides to reject my expense report it should be there obligation make sure they inform me and make sure I am aware I am about to end up having to pay for expenses incurred whilst representing the company out of my own personal savings. Instead an automatic email was sent to my manager informing him that it was rejected, but he never forwarded it to me, so I was never informed my expense claim had been rejected. The only way I could have found out would have been if I had logged into the expense system again within 3 months, but I never had a reason to do so as my next expense claim was +3 months later.
An automatic email notification was sent to my manager, but he failed to forward it to me. For that reason I never realized my expense claim had been rejected until +3 months later when I logged into the expense claim system to submit my next expense report (I didn't have any expenses to claim for +3 months and I therefore never logged into the system). As soon as I realized the issue I resubmitted the expense claim with the missing receipt attached. But it was rejected again, this time because it was now suddenly +3 months after the expenses were incurred.
I brought this up with my employer and not only hoped but assumed that we would come to an agreement whereby my employer would make an exception to their +3 month rule and reimburse my expense claim as this was a combination of a) the system failed to inform me that they had rejected my expense claim. The system did in fact inform my manager via an automatic email, but not me, and he failed to forward it to me to make me aware and b) a genuine "mistake" on my part not to log into the expense claim system for +3 months to check if my expense claim had been accepted or rejected (I felt I had no reason to do so as I didn't have any new expenses to claim over this time period).
I have tried to speak to my employer about this matter to come to an agreement that they should still reimburse my expenses. They have now said no due to compliance reasons. However, when I flagged this with the UK compliance team, they responded to myself and my manager and confirmed that it is down to my managers discretion, but that he/she is legally allowed to reimburse my expenses, but that doing so would result in a compliance exception. “Provided your manager is happy to support then we will allow this to be processed for payment, however it will remain a policy failure for late submission, there is no exception.”
At my company we are all working very hard and are all busy and therefore struggle to stay on top of email so I can understand why my manager never forwarded me the automatic email notification sent to him (again, not sent to me) that my expense claim had been rejected. Equally, I would expect my employer to understand why I didn't log into the expense system in time to realise that my expense claim had been rejected. Sure it would have been wise of me to login and check or login to my online bank statements to check that my expenses had been reimbursed. It just never occurred to me to do so as I was busy with work and life. I therefore don't feel it is fair that a large employer (with +$90b turnover) turn around and tell the employee (with a proportionally marginal salary) that it is the employees fault and they will therefore have to pay for company related expenses out of their own personal savings.
I would very much appreciate your opinion and advice on this matter.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. Have you formally complained to the employer?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Yes, I have formally complained to my manager in person and via email, and he has raised my complaint with his manager.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
It took about 3 weeks and I was informed of the outcome today. They decided that ultimately I need to take personal accountability and responsiblity to ensure that my expense claim has been submitted correctly and on time. Despite any shortcoming of the system. I disapprove of this outcome, and hence consider taking legal action. As I don't know what else I can do and I am not getting any further speaking to my employer. Not sure where in HR I could turn. The value of the expense claim/reimbursment is £850.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your response. I will review the relevant information and laws and will get back to you as soon as I can. Please do not respond to this message as it will just push your question to the back of the queue and you may experience unnecessary delays. Thank you
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Thanks for your patience. Looking at the information you supplied, there is an argument for both sides really. The employer has a strict policy in place which needs to be followed by you and they would expect you to ensure that the correct details and documentation is supplied with the claim. It is your responsibility to ensure that this is done, otherwise your claim could be rejected, as was the case here.
At the same time, if they did reject it, it would be a reasonable expectation that they would advise you of this. However, they can then counter-argue that a notification was sent, to your employer, and it is his fault that you were not informed. So the employer had provided a notification and it was not their fault if it was not passed on to you. It is still worth checking the policy carefully to see what it says, if anything, about notifications of rejections and who it is supposed to go to.
So I would say that in the circumstances it is about a 50/50 as to who may be right and who a court may favour. Also remember that the only way to try and get the expenses would be to go to court. Getting a solicitor at this stage will not do much as they can only say things to the employer, not force them to do anything. Only a court can force the employer to pay you. However, going to court could make you a problematic employee in the eyes of your employer. Whilst it is your legal right to argue your case there, it will not make you their most favourite employee, that’s for sure. Whilst they cannot legally dismiss you for that, they could make your life there difficult. They could even dismiss you and whilst it may be unfair and they may have to pay you some compensation, it would still be an unwelcome outcome for you. So consider the repercussions of doing this.
I suggest at this stage you go through the formal grievance procedure at first and appeal if necessary. If that fails then court is the only option but as mentioned it is about 50/50 and also remember the potential risks of doing so.
This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of the steps you need to take if you want to take this further, which I wish to discuss so please take a second to leave a positive rating for the service so far (by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars) and I can continue with that and answer any further questions you may have. Don’t worry, leaving a rating will not close the question and we can continue this discussion. Thank you
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Hello, I see you have read my response to your query. Please let me know if this has answered your original question and if you need me to discuss the next steps in more detail In the meantime please take a second to leave a positive rating by selecting 3, 4 or 5 starts from the top of the page. The question will not close and I can continue with my advice as discussed. Thank you