HRSINGAPORE Community Discussions

Reimbursement of Bus Fares


Dear HR Professionals,

One of our staff has frequently been asked to run errands during her lunch hours. When not on an errand she will usually have lunch nearby the office. My management feels that she should not ask for reimbursement of bus fares as it is during her lunch hour. However, our office area does not have any cheque drop in box and shops to buy office supplies. She has to take a bus for a few stops to do it. What should be the correct approach?




Reply 1

Lunch hour is not considered as a working hour. Hence, seeking reimbursement for bus fare to run an errand during lunch break is reasonable.

Kean Hua



Reply 2

This staff has used her own lunch hour to run errands for the company so it is only fair that the company reimburse her bus fare. Alternatively, she can use office hour to do these errands then would your management feel more “justified” to let her claim the bus fare?




Reply 3

Your colleague’s flexibility and willingness is commendable. However, it is in the interest of both the organisation and the employee to have a clear policy for tasks outside of the office.
By understanding and including the cost of these activities into the operational budget, the organization is better resourced. In this case, the activity is the cost of transport and the time of the employee outside of work. If it is necessary for work, budget for it and never depend on goodwill as employees come and go.

I consider the alternative of your colleague running errands during work hours to be fairer for everyone (instead of extending or using an employee’s lunch break). Taking this approach will make it easier to account for expenses incurred. It can help to avoid issues of disappointment or resentment due to unmet expectations of “give and take” reciprocation in the longer term.




Reply 4

If it is for business errands, we will reimburse reasonable transport fares, even if it is during lunch hours.




Reply 5

Looks like the expectations on both sides needs to be addressed.

Need to clarify if this task is part of staff JD? I am assuming it is not, as you stated she frequently was being asked to run errands. From the management's perspective, the expectation is for staff to voluntarily do it during their lunch break. It doesn't take much time and its on the way of the staff getting her lunch anyway. The staff, however, may see this as a job assigned to her during her lunchtime, no matter how small the task is. She sacrificed part of her lunchtime to perform small tasks for the company. So when she expects management to compensate her transport claims, is this expectation unreasonable? If she does it during office hours, would the management pay for her transport claims? If yes, what is the difference if it is done during her lunchtime?

If the management is reluctant to pay for the transport claims, perhaps assign this to someone who doesn't mind doing it voluntarily during lunchtime or after work. This GEMS service should not be taken for granted and noted during performance appraisal. If you can't find a volunteer for this task, I would suggest compensating the same staff for her transport claims. I'd also suggest getting your office supplies via online and delivery services if possible. If the same staff is still assigned to get supplies, transport claims should be provided.




Reply 6

I believe your company should reimburse her transport for running the company's errand.
These do not occur daily and only small cost and she sacrifice part of her lunch hour to buy
office supplies.




Reply 7

Please give this poor girl a break. She is helping the company to run errands during her lunch hours. She is using her own time to help the company. I think the company should reimburse her for the bus fare. The cost of the bus fare is also minimal. Just pay. You are lucky she did not ask to go by taxi and ask for reimbursement of her lunch hours!




Reply 8

In our company, we bought a few spare MRT cards for the staff to use when they are running errands for the company irrespective whether it is lunchtime.

C. Tan



Reply 9

I think it is fair for the employee to get reimbursement for her bus fare as she is running the company's errands.  As you mentioned:

1) No nearby cheque drop in a box which the employee needed to travel a few stops to drop in the company's cheques.

2) No nearby shops to buy office supplies which the employee had to travel a few stops to purchase if required.

The employee would just have her lunch nearby the office if she has no errands to run for the company, therefore the employee has the right to get reimbursement for her journey she spent.

Istina J



Reply 10

In order to solve the issue. The management should find a stationary supplier and also request bank transfer if possible in order to minimise this issue. Otherwise, if this is not urgent and your colleague can drop the cheque after work then she can avoid using her lunch hour to run errands. End of the day lunch hour is also part of employment benefits too.




Reply 11

Perhaps your company can purchase a separate EZLink card for her to use to commute while running errands. Then allow her to file under expense claim (with receipt) whenever she tops up the EZLink card. When she resigns, she can return the EZLink card back to the company.





It is only fair that your staff should be reimbursed for her bus fare since she is doing your company's errand even though it's her lunch break. As a matter of fact, the company should not even be asked her to do the company's errands during lunch break. So indeed it's a give-and-take situation and both parties need to be flexible on this matter.





Yes, of course. Your Company must compensate her on the transport since she is on an official errand. Moreover, your Company nearby don’t have banks and/or stationery shop.
She is very kind to run errands during her lunch hours and not during office hour.
FYI - Our company compensate staff at cost for all type of transport (include taxi) expenses on official assignment.





Indeed the employer or the company can be more generous on this. after all lunch hour is not paid (as stated in the employment contract) and likewise to run errand during lunch break is as good as asking someone to work during her off day. in this case the bus fare should not cost too much to the employer and employee is happy and end of the day the job is done.