Do you think its a bad idea to take your direct reports out to lunch and then have them expense  the lunch?  Or is a good rule of thumb that when you take your direct report  out to lunch that you take care of the bill and expense it?

One of my DR's who is a manager, does not think this is a good idea to have your DR pick up the tab and expense it as the sr. manager, or the highest ranking person at the table should pick up the tab and expense it.



Smacquarrie's picture

It would depend on company policy.
Where I work it is required that the sr employee expense the meal.
I do believe it to be in bad form to have your DR expense it on your behalf.

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Kevin1's picture

Most company policies would be that the senior person pays and expenses it.  Otherwise you could be seen as approving your own expenses which os not a good look.  Perception is reality.

kind regarda


awil's picture

Also keep in mind, that you may not know if someone just had to spend $$$ on car repairs, for example, the day before, and is completely wiped out till payday. They may be too embarrassed to tell you if you then propose a lunch that they have to pay for, even if they are only temporarily out of pocket.

Also, if you have to approve any of their expenses, please please make sure you do so immediately they are processed - I've seen a senior manager hold expenses for 6 weeks and on the evening he was heading away for holidays, someone had to pull him back and ask him to approve (otherwise they would have been out of pocket for another 2 weeks). Very uncomfortable for both.

pucciot's picture
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 Please remember that managers are stewards of the organization's funds.

In each of these cases it is the organization that is paying for the meals.

Each manager is given responsibility for disbursing and approving funds _under_ their area of responsibility.
How could a Jr. Manager be responsible for a Sr. Manager's lunch ?  Who in the organization would be the approver for that ?
Kev is right you should not approve your own expenses if you can avoid it.
- Also you may need to keep in mind that if you take one DR to lunch you should make sure you give equal treatment to all DR's.
Here, either it is a Departmental Lunch for everybody that can be expensed as a team building meeting - or - it comes out of the manager's pocket.


leanne's picture
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At our company we don't really have funds for just going out to lunch (or at my context; maybe the HQ people do, but our budget is much more constrained).

As a result, I have a perspective you may not have considered, which is: If you say 'hey, Bob-my-direct, let's go to lunch and talk about project X', the direct may feel like they *have* *to* say yes. (You may not think that's what you said, you just made a suggestion. Your direct may think what you said was 'we're going to lunch to talk about project X'. I really, really think most managers have NO IDEA how much their directs respond to their role power even when the manager thinks they're not using it.)

If you then say, 'oh, and you'll pay and expense it''ve in effect trapped them into spending their own money out of pocket for something you've told them to do. Expenses being sometimes, shall we say, arcane to get reimbursed for, you've just directed them to spend money they don't know when they'll get back. And in my case, if I think my manager's paying, I bring along enough money to pay for me but not to pay for the whole meal. (That is - if I go to lunch with my manager, I assume that EITHER he is paying, OR we are splitting the check. If I get the idea he's paying, I'll still bring enough money to cover me, just in case I was wrong.) If they drove, I might not have my wallet with me, just the cash I'd use to pay.

It's a little different if they're taking *their* people out to lunch and you ask if you can come along. (Your skips will probably think you're paying, by the way, because the assumption is that the highest-ranked person is the one whose company-rank is expressing appreciation or whatever, and therefore paying. It can then feel very odd to them to see their manager, your direct, pull out their wallet to pay for it.)

Why would you have your direct do it anyway, instead of doing it yourself, if your definition of what you're doing is 'taking them out to lunch'?

joeziska's picture

I know of no company where an individual is allowed to approve their own expense reports (aside from sole proprietorships and/or CEOs).  This is the situation if you have your direct report expense the meal.  This is a clear conflict of interest at best and fraud at worst.  

If the expenses are within company policy you, as the highest ranking member at the activity, should submit them.  It is then your manager's responsibility to provide appropriate controls as needed.



pwsaindon's picture


    As the most Sr. person at the table (or not), it is the most Sr. persons decision on whether the lunch should be expensed or not.  If you are not the most Sr. person at the table than it's probably your boss or your bosses peer, or bosses boss.  I certainly would expect my boss or bosses peer to know more of the policy combine with the company culture of expensing lunches.  In addition, if my boss or bosses peer was at the table and they were not expensing the lunch, but I was, it was seem wrong, because that is a clear signal that my boss does not think it is appropriate to expense the lunch, and that is who I would be turning in my expense report to if I had expensed it, which puts my boss in a sticky situation.

    In general, when I am the most Sr. person at the table I consider company policy coupled with my personal ethical beliefs.  My personal ethical belief is if the lunch amount is under the amount of money the company would spend paying us all for 1hr more of work (since we're on our lunch break the company "is not paying us"), and the lunch was about work, or will make us more effective in the work place, I expense the lunch.  In a sense, I've just saved the company money for making the team more effective, or getting work done, for less money.