GlobalExpense, who specialise in providing expenses management services to, among others, major law firms, has just published the results of a survey which suggests one quarter of expense-claiming employees exaggerate their claims. Who'd have thought it! GlobalExpense say that while this year saw 25% of employees admitting to exaggerating their expenses, last year (2009) the figure was only 15% – so either expense fiddling is on the increase or expense fiddlers are now more open about their activities?
 
Almost half (47%) of those that admit to having exaggerated expenses claims, inflate claims by up to £10 per month; 13% boost claims by between £11 and £20; 10% enlarge claims by between £21 and £50; and 4% magnify claims by between £51 and £100 per month.
 
Mileage claims are the most likely to be exaggerated (22%) by those who have ever claimed expenses, followed by meals and drinks whilst away from home for work (12%); taxi fares (5%, accommodation (4%) and entertainment claims (3%).
 
“Not only is the number of people exaggerating their expenses on the increase, but the general public’s acceptance of exaggerating expenses claims  is creeping back-up to pre-MPs’ expenses scandal levels, too,” says David Vine, CEO of GlobalExpense. According to the GlobalExpense survey, nearly one quarter (22%t) of people think it is acceptable for employees to exaggerate their work expenses when claiming them back from their employer some or all of the time. Immediately after the MPs’ expenses scandal in 2009 this figure was 14%: a significant drop on pre-scandal figures of 30% in 2008 and 34% in 2007.
 
Exaggerating expenses claims by up to 10% is considered fair by 22%t of the general public; 5% think up to 20% is acceptable, and three percent tolerate the exaggeration of claims by 21 to 50% of value. Circumstances in which people think it is acceptable to exaggerate claims include:
 
•  When the mileage rate paid by the employer doesn’t cover the actual car and fuel costs (34%)
•  When an employee doesn’t feel they are fully reimbursed for all the costs they have incurred (27 %)
•  When an employee works long hours but isn’t paid any overtime (23%)
•  When an employee is not paid a fair salary (16%)
•  When the employee’s boss claims for luxurious expenses or expenses which aren’t work related (15%)
•  When an employee has not had a pay rise in line with inflation (11%)

GlobalExpense say that of all the people that had ever claimed expenses in the survey, only 16% had had their expense claims queried by their employer for being against the company policy and only 6% had ever had an expenses claim rejected. Other findings of the survey include:
 
•  Almost one third of bosses (30%) definitely or probably exaggerate their expenses according to respondents.   
•  Seeing reports in the newspapers about directors that exaggerate their expenses makes 14% of people more inclined to exaggerate their own expenses claims.
•  10% of people believe that an employer can afford the addition of a couple of pounds to a mileage claim and that it won’t hurt the company.
•  Less than a third (29%) of people believe that exaggerating expenses claims should be a sackable offence.
•  Young workers aged between 18 to 24 have laxest morals when it comes to exaggerating expenses claims: 33% say it is ever acceptable compared with 17% of those aged 55+.
 
The attached PDF contains more details about the survey.