Managing Your Cash Flow

Big number of "expenses devils" submitting dodgy claims at work

3 min read

22 October 2015

Recent research by webexpenses found that 85 per cent of employees are over-claiming on expenses – and revealed some of the reasons why.

This year has seen numerous scandals regarding expense claims. For example, former MEP Ashley Mote fraudulently claimed almost £500,000 in European parliament expenses before being jailed – while at the same time carrying out a high-profile campaign condemning corruption and the improper use of public money.

Similarly, January saw BT change the way it reimbursed employees after discovering a major fraud that netted two managers with more than £150,000 – one depended on the money so he could shower his lover in Argentina with gifts

But expense claim fraud is not the preserve of MPs or managers, according to webexpenses. Its latest report has found that 85 per cent of UK employees admit to bending the rules when it comes to submitting their expense claims. 

Adam Reynolds, CEO of webexpenses, said: “There are far too many people over-claiming on expenses in the British workplace – people we call expenses devils. When presented with the opportunity to over-claim and get away with it, some people will, unsurprisingly, choose the dishonest option. In fact, one respondent even admitted to over-claiming by more than £4,000. What’s more, having a small group of expenses devils in the work place can encourage others to follow similar behaviour when it comes to expense claims.”

Read more about managing expenses:

When it comes to how much people actually over-claim, in the past 12 months 25 per cent of employees admitted to claiming a figure of over £250, with 22 per cent over-claiming between £50-£100, and one in five owning-up to over-claiming between £10-£50. 

The top reasons for over-claiming were: people believing everyone else in the company does it and therefore they could do the same (22 per cent); not feeling they are paid enough and that the company owes them more money (17 per cent); admitting they did so as it was easy to get away with (12 per cent). 

What’s more, it appears older people are the worst at over-claiming on their expenses, with around a quarter of people aged 45-54 and 24 per cent of those aged 55+ confessing to exaggerating claims by over £500. Yet over-claiming on expenses isn’t guilt free. 

When asked how they would feel if they were caught over-claiming, 41 per cent admitted that they would feel embarrassed. Interestingly, however, 11 per cent stated they would use getting caught as an opportunity to bring up work-related grievances.