by Gina Tonic
Some days the business does literally leave me speechless. Every year we have a continued drive to reduce costs, provide more efficient solutions and in general do more for less. Every cost estimate is scrutinised and items such as cultural training are scrapped from the assignment support provided. Then suddenly, we have the strangest of costs agreed.
Unexpected surprises in the comp data
So, during the compensation data gathering exercise for the annual tax returns one of our assignees had a regular expense reimbursed each month. It wasn’t a lot, but it was a regular monthly amount that I wasn’t expecting to see. During my time in GM I have seen many attempts at sneaking an expense through from broadband charges to school uniforms, so I have certainly learned to question the unexpected.
I decided to drop a fairly innocent email to the assignee just asking for clarification so it could be processed correctly for his tax return.
Would struggle to be a professional poker player
I am so glad I had sent an email rather than had a video call as I don’t think I could have kept a professional poker face when the reply came back!!
The monthly expenses are a claim for cat food. There was a stray cat in our apartment block that I have adopted and, as this in an additional cost whilst on assignment, I have agreed with my line manager that this can be claimed via expenses.
Now I’m not saying that animals shouldn’t be looked after or saying the assignee should have chosen not to adopt the cat, but we can’t have assignees claiming cat food!! Since when has pet food become a separate line item on the cost estimate and no longer covered under the cost of living adjustment on the disposable income?
Not standing for that nonsense
In my incensed state I jumped on the phone to the business HRBP to escalate the case. I ran through the policy, highlighted the issues of setting a precedent and explained that as this isn’t a business expense it would be a taxable benefit and so therefore the cost to the business is more than just the cost of the cat food.
Happier that this ridiculousness was going to be put to bed I popped out to grab some lunch and a well-deserved coffee.
Some days my optimism at common sense prevailing never ceases to amaze me as, on my return from lunch, I saw an email from the HRBP in my inbox. She had explained the issues to the line manager, and despite all the reasons, he had decided that because the assignee was important to the business, he was happy to pick up the extra cost, including the additional tax due.
Honestly some days I wish there was something stronger in my coffee!!