Authors: Todd White (@Taliskermalt) and Theo Beutel (@theobtl)
This policy describes the policy of VitaDAO to reimburse contributors for business travel expenses.
Note: this proposal is deprecated. Please see 2023 Travel Authorization Policy for current per per diem rates.
With community building and outreach being an important part of VitaDAO’s mission, certain activities of the DAO require business travel. So far, no specific rules and guidelines have been in place to inform DAO contributors on their rights and obligations concerning business travel. There was also a lack of incentive for individuals to put effort into booking tickets at reasonable rates, e.g. early-bird tickets or booking airfares well in advance. This policy seeks to introduce clarity on reimbursements by the DAO on business travel, as well as specify rules to keep the DAO’s expenses on business travel reasonable.
It is the policy of VitaDAO to reimburse contributors for reasonable and necessary expenses incurred during approved work-related travel.
Contributors seeking reimbursement should incur the lowest reasonable travel expenses and exercise care to avoid impropriety or the appearance of impropriety. Reimbursement is allowed only when reimbursement has not been, and will not be, received from other sources (i.e. other DAOs, or scholarships). If a circumstance arises that is not specifically covered in this travel policy, then the most conservative course of action should be taken and the circumstances should be communicated to the Working Group Steward, or Operations Working Group Steward for consideration in future updates to this policy.
Business travel policies are aligned with VitaDAO reimbursement rules. All business-related travel paid with VitaDAO funds must comply with expenditure policies.
Authorization and responsibility
Contributors travel must be authorised. Travelers should verify that planned travel is eligible for reimbursement before making travel arrangements. Within 30 days of completion of a trip, the traveler must submit a travel reimbursement form and supporting documentation to obtain reimbursement of expenses.
An individual may not approve his or her own travel or reimbursement.
Designated approval authorities (Working Group Stewards) are required to review expenditures and withhold reimbursement if there is reason to believe that the expenditures are not consistent with this policy. However, expenses consistent with this policy shall not be withheld if the travel has been approved.
For any travel over USD 2,500
The travel reimbursement form must be approved by the Working Group Steward whose budget is being charged and the Operations/Finance WG Steward.
For any travel under USD 2,500
The travel reimbursement form must be approved by any two stewards, one of whom is responsible for the WG whose budget is being charged.
For any travel by VitaCore members
Travel and reimbursement for members of VitaCore must be approved by the Operations WG Steward and any other Steward, and in the case of the Operations Steward, the Governance WG Steward and any other Steward.
Travelers should review reimbursement guidelines before spending personal funds for business travel to determine if such expenses are reimbursable. See section Travel Expenses/Procedures for details. VitaDAO reserves the right to deny reimbursement of travel-related expenses for failure to comply with these policies and procedures.
Travelers who use personal funds to facilitate travel arrangements will not be reimbursed until after the trip occurs and proper documentation is submitted.
Vacation in conjunction with business travel
In cases in which vacation time is added to a business trip, any cost variance in airfare, car rental or lodging must be clearly identified on the Travel Request form. VitaDAO will not prepay any personal expenses with the intention of being “repaid” at a later time, nor will any personal expenses be reimbursed.
Occasionally it may be necessary for travelers to request exceptions to this travel policy. Requests for exceptions to the policy must be made in writing and approved by the Operations WG Steward. Exceptions related to a Steward or the Operations WG Steward expenses specifically must be submitted to VitaCore for approval by majority vote. In most instances, the expected turnaround time for review and approval is five business days.
Authorized business travel for contributors that includes prepayments must be pre-approved.
Reimbursement of parking, mileage, gasoline in lieu of mileage and ferry or bus passes do not require requests if they are under $20 USD. Requests for reimbursement of expenses over $20 are to be submitted on a travel reimbursement form.
Permissible prepaid travel expenses
Before the travel, VitaDAO may issue prepayments for airfare, rail transportation, rental vehicles, conference registration fees and cash advances. Applicable policies and methods of payments for these prepayments follow.
Airfare. Travelers are expected to obtain the lowest available airfare that reasonably meets business travel needs.
Travelers must book flights at least 14 days in advance to avoid premium airfare pricing. Bookings less than 14 days in advance require prior approval from the WG Steward whose budget will be charged for the cost - prior approval must be in writing. The Operations WG Steward reserves the right to pay out only the amount equal to an economy fare ticket priced 14 days in advance for any ticket booked less than 14 days in advance which does not have a prior authorization
Coach class or economy tickets must be purchased for domestic or international flights with flight time totaling less than eight (8) hours excluding layovers.
Business Class tickets for domestic or international flights with flight time exceeding (8) hours excluding layovers may be reimbursed up to the amount of a Full Economy fare for the same routing and dates at VitaDAOs discretion. Travelers will be responsible for providing both the original ticker receipt and a copy of the quote for a full economy fare ticket for the same routing and dates when submitting their reimbursement request. Request to book business class must be made in advance with the Working Group Steward whose budget will reimburse the travel.
Rail transportation. VitaDAO will pay for rail transportation in second class. For journeys exceeding 5 hours, first class fares are reimbursed too. In the case of sleeper trains, VitaDAO will cover the cost of the cheapest fare that provides a bed.
Rental vehicles. VitaDAO will pay for approved use of a rental vehicle. See the section on reimbursements below in this section.
Conference registration fees. Unless a free ticket is provided through a speaking engagement or sponsorship arrangement, travelers are strongly encouraged to buy early-bird tickets. Failure to do so requires giving a written reason when submitting the reimbursement form.
Business-related banquets or meals that are considered part of the conference can be paid with the registration fees; however, such meals must be deducted from the traveler’s per diem allowance.
Travel advances. Cash advances are authorized for specific situations that might cause undue financial hardship for business travelers. These situations are limited to contributors traveling on behalf of VitaDAO. A maximum of 80 percent of the total estimated cost can be advanced. VitaDAO reserves the right to directly pay for travel expenses in lieu of cash advance at its discretion.
Expenses associated with the travel must be reconciled and substantiated within two weeks of the return date. The traveler must repay VitaDAO for any advances in excess of the approved reimbursable expenses. The Working Group initiating the travel is responsible for notifying the Operations WG to deposit any excess funds into the appropriate Working Group budget/wallet.
Travel advances are processed by submitting a completed Request for Payment form and Travel Request form to the Operations Working Group. Reimbursement for any remaining expenses is processed on a Travel Reimbursement form approved by the Operations Working Group
Requests for reimbursements of travel-related expenses are submitted on a Travel Reimbursement form. This form must be accompanied by supporting documentation. If the requested reimbursement exceeds 20 percent of the total pre-trip estimate, the Travel Reimbursement form must be signed by the Operations WG Steward.
These forms must be submitted to the Operations WG within 21 days after the trip is completed. Travel Reimbursement forms not submitted within this time frame require exception approval from the Working Group Steward whose WG budget is being charged plus the Operations WG Steward.
Reimbursement of travel expenses is based on documentation of reasonable and actual expenses supported by the original, itemized receipts where required. Reimbursements that may be paid by VitaDAO are shown below:
Airfare. If the airfare was not prepaid by the Operations Working Group, an original itemized airline receipt, an e-ticket receipt/statement or an Internet receipt/statement is required. The receipt must show the method of payment and indicate that payment was made.
Rail transportation. If rail transportation was not prepaid by the Operations Working Group, an original itemized receipt, original e-ticket receipt/statement or Internet receipt/statement is required. The receipt must show the method of payment and indicate that payment was made.
Automobile (personally owned—domestic travel). A valid driver’s license and personal automobile insurance are required for expenses to be reimbursed. Drivers should be aware of the extent of coverage (if any) provided by his or her automobile insurance company for travel that is business or not personal in nature.
Reimbursement for use of a personal automobile is based on the VitaDAO mileage rate.
As of July 1, 2022, the rate is $0.28 USD per kilometer.
A contributors travel reimbursement form is required for reimbursement of all vehicle-related expenses, including gasoline, wear and tear, and personal auto insurance.
Travelers may opt to request reimbursement for actual gasoline expenses in lieu of the VitaDAO mileage rate. In these instances, original, itemized receipts are required.
Automobile (rental—domestic travel). Reimbursement for a commercial rental vehicle as a primary mode of transportation is authorized only if the rental vehicle is more economical than any other type of public transportation, or if the destination is not otherwise accessible. Vehicle rental at a destination city is reimbursable. Original receipts are required.
VitaDAO authorizes reimbursement for the most economical vehicle available. In certain circumstances larger vehicles may be rented, with WG approval. The rental agreement must clearly show the date and the points of departure/arrival, as well as the total cost. Drivers must adhere to the rental requirements, and restrictions must be followed. Original receipts are required.
When vehicle rentals are necessary, VitaDAO encourages travelers to purchase collision damage waiver (CDW) and loss damage waiver (LDW) coverage. VitaDAO will reimburse the cost of CDW and LDW coverage; all other insurance reimbursements will be denied.
Drivers should be aware of the extent of coverage (if any) provided by his or her automobile insurance company for travel that is business or not personal in nature.
Parking fees, tolls and other incidental costs associated with the vehicle use are not covered by the rental agreement.
Travelers are strongly encouraged to fill the gas tank before returning the vehicle to the rental agency to avoid service fees and more expensive fuel rates.
Conference registration fees. If the conference fee was not prepaid, VitaDAO will reimburse these fees, including business-related banquets or meals that are part of the conference registration. Original receipts to support the payment are required. If the conference does not provide a receipt, then a canceled check, credit card slip/statement or documentation that the amount was paid is required for reimbursement.
A prorated amount for the meals provided must be deducted from the traveler’s per diem. See Meals (per diem) for more detail. Entertainment activities such as sightseeing tours will not be reimbursed.
Registration fees paid directly by an individual will not be reimbursed until the conference is completed.
Lodging (commercial). The cost of overnight lodging (room rate and tax only) will be reimbursed to the traveler if the authorized travel is 80 kilometers or more from the traveler’s home or primary worksite.
Exceptions to this restriction may be approved in writing by a Working Group Steward.
VitaDAO will reimburse lodging expenses at reasonable, single occupancy or standard business room rates up to a maximum based on location according to Appendix A, Column 2. When the hotel or motel is the conference or convention site, reimbursement will be limited to the conference rate.
Only single room rates are authorized for payment or reimbursement unless the second party is representing VitaDAO in an authorized capacity. If the lodging receipt shows more than a single occupancy, the single room rate must be noted. If reimbursement for more than the single room rate is requested, the name of the second person must be included.
Lodging (non-commercial). If the traveler organizes their accommodation on their own (i.e. stays with friends or family) and does not invoice lodging costs based on a receipt, the traveler is entitled to receiving 50% of the corresponding rate listed in Column 2 in Appendix A, depending on location.
Meals (per diem).
Per diem allowances are applicable for all travel that is 80 kilometer or more from the traveler’s home or primary worksite.
VitaDAO per diem rates are based on German government rates in their most recent version. The current version for 2021 and 2022 can be found in Appendix A. Rates depend on location and are defined in column 1a) for full days and in column 1b) for arrival/departure days. All rates are per day and include gratuities.
Example rates for full days include: 36€ for Lisbon (Portugal), 58€ for New York (USA), 54€ for Singapore or 28€ for Germany. For a complete list of locations, see Appendix A.
In addition to meals these rates include incidental expenses such as laundry, dry cleaning and service tips (e.g., housekeeping or porter tips). Other incidental expenses, unless specifically cited in this policy, will not be reimbursed.
If a free meal is served on the plane, included in a conference registration fee, built in to the standard, single hotel room rate or replaced by a legitimate business meal, the per diem allowance for that meal may not be claimed.
Receipts are not required for per diem allowances. Per diem allowances are reimbursed after the trip is completed.
Business meals. Contributors are required to follow VitaDAO expenditure policies when requesting reimbursement for business meals. Original itemized receipts are required.
Business expenses. Business expenses, including faxes, photocopies, Internet charges, data ports and business telephone calls incurred while on travel status, can be reimbursed. Original itemized receipts are required.
Parking. Original receipts are required for parking fees (including airport parking) totaling $25 or more. The lodging bill can be used as a receipt when charges are included as part of the overnight stay.
Telephone calls. The costs of personal telephone calls are the responsibility of the individual.
Tolls. Original receipts are required for tolls totaling $25 or more.
Miscellaneous transportation. Original receipts are required for Uber, taxi, bus, subway, metro, ferry and other modes of transportation if costs are $25 or more for each occurrence.
Visa, passport fees and immunizations. If these items are required for international travel, their reimbursement is left to the discretion of your Working Group Steward. If approved, original itemized receipts are required.
Non-reimbursable Travel Expenses
The following items that may be associated with business travel will not be reimbursed by VitaDAO:
- Airline club memberships.
- Airline upgrades.
- Business class for domestic flights or first class for all flights.
- Child care, babysitting, house-sitting, or pet-sitting/kennel charges.
- Commuting between home and the primary work location.
- Costs incurred by traveler’s failure to cancel travel or hotel reservations in a timely fashion.
- Evening or formal wear expenses.
- Haircuts and personal grooming.
- Laundry and dry cleaning.
- Passports, vaccinations and visas when not required as a specific and necessary condition of the travel assignment.
- Personal entertainment expenses, including in-flight movies, headsets, health club facilities, hotel pay-per-view movies, in-theater movies, social activities and related incidental costs.
- Travel accident insurance premiums or purchase of additional travel insurance.
- Other expenses not directly related to the business travel.
Travel for Non-Contributors
Additional costs for travel, lodging, meal or other travel expenses for spouses or other family members will not be reimbursed unless the individual has a bona fide company purpose for engaging in the travel or attending the event and has received prior approval from the Working Group Steward(s) whose budget will be charged and the Operations Working Group Steward. Such travel is generally limited to Core Contributors and should occur infrequently.
If this proposal passes, it will be in effect immediately. The operations working group will announce further details, including a link to the travel reimbursement form as well as the starting date from when this policy will be mandatory.
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