UAB trainees are individuals who are either:
- receiving monthly fellowship payments under an active fellowship assignment or
- properly identified as trainees on a sponsored training grant.
See Scholarship/Fellowship Payments for information on fellowships.
Trainee travel is defined as travel by a trainee that is directly related to the trainee's academic research activities and is a required and integral part of a formal training program to fulfill or supplement UAB's obligation to train the individual.
Trainee travel applies to the following types of trips:
- gather data integral to the trainee's research project;
- attend a scientific conference for the purpose of presenting results of the his/her research project; or
- attend a scientific conference for the purpose of gaining additional knowledge about his/her research project.
However, trainee travel cannot include travel between UAB and the individual's home, and therefore, any relocation/moving costs or commuting costs are regarded as personal, and reimbursement of such costs constitutes additional taxable fellowship dollars.
An individual can have multiple roles in relation to UAB. Because the regulatory and policy requirements are different for the different roles, an appropriate distinction must be made up front as to the role in which the individual will be traveling for each trip. If the individual is not traveling in their trainee role, then the trainee travel classification would be inappropriate.
With appropriate documentation, necessary and reasonable transportation, meals, and lodging travel costs may be funded for trainee travel. Documentation requirements are stricter for non-employees (such as trainees) than for employees, therefore, trainees should be careful to follow these rules, not the employee rules.
The following applies to travel reimbursement for trainees. Items not addressed below follow the same guidelines as Employee Travel.
The cost of the trainee's hotel room is normally reimbursable at the basic single occupancy room rate (plus tax). Almost all hotels accept a credit card number to guarantee a reservation and will only charge the card if the traveler fails to arrive on time without properly canceling the reservation. Therefore, trainees are expected to handle the room reservations with a credit card. However, UAB will occasionally place an advance deposit in order to secure a room for the trainee if it cannot be handled any other way with the hotel. UAB will not reimburse the trainee in advance of the trip in any circumstances. Normally, such deposits would be limited to the single occupancy rate for one night. Evidence that the hotel will not accept a credit card guarantee and contractually requires an advance deposit should be attached to the requisition.
Receipts are required to document all meal expenditures for which the trainee is requesting reimbursement. Itemized receipts are required for reimbursement of a meal regardless of the dollar amount.
UAB will reimburse meals with detailed receipts up to:
- Breakfast: $25
- Lunch: $50
- Dinner: $75
Trainees cannot be reimbursed for alcoholic beverages or alcohol-related costs under any circumstance.
If the traveler has food allergies and cannot eat the meal that is being provided by the conference, a doctor's statement with a listing of the allergies of the traveler and a copy of the menu from the conference must be submitted to be considered for reimbursement.
- Rental Cars
- Rental Car Insurance
- Airline Tickets
First/business class airfare/transportation is generally unallowable for trainees, unless a legitimate medical justification is documented.
With receipts to document the expenditures, actual parking and toll charges directly associated with trainee travel may be reimbursed.
Reimbursements for private car mileage must be based upon the IRS federal mileage rates. The private car mileage rate does not apply to rental cars or to UAB-owned vehicles.
The cost of renting automobiles may be allowed for UAB trainee travel purposes if public transportation is not available or is impractical to utilize. The original detailed receipt/agreement must be attached to the reimbursement request. In such cases, the traveler may not also be reimbursed for the mileage allowance.
Automobile rental companies usually offer renters the option of purchasing various types of liability and physical damage insurance to address situations in which the rental car is involved in an accident or in which the rental car is stolen or vandalized. Whether a trainee would be reimbursed by UAB for such insurance depends upon:
- whether the car is being rented strictly for UAB trainee travel purpose, and
- whether the travel is occurring inside the United States vs. outside the United States.
According to UAB's Risk Management Department, UAB now has liability and physical damage coverage for business travel inside the United States; therefore, UAB will not pay or reimburse for such coverage from the rental car company for UAB business travel inside the United States. However, UAB will pay or reimburse for such coverage from the rental car company for UAB business travel outside the United States; and in such cases, failure to purchase such coverage for UAB business travel outside the United States may result in the traveler becoming personally liable.
For UAB's insurance to apply, the vehicle must actually have been rented for UAB business purposes, and it must actually be in use for UAB business purposes at the time of the accident/loss. Therefore, if the vehicle is going to coincidentally be used for non-UAB-business purposes on the same trip, such as sight-seeing or visiting relatives, the renter should consider purchasing such coverage personally as their own cost to cover non-business use. UAB will not pay or reimburse the traveler for other insurance which might be offered by the rental car company such as lost luggage, accidental death/dismemberment, trip cancellation, etc. If you have questions concerning UAB's insurance coverage or if you wish to submit a claim against UAB's insurance policies, please contact the UAB Risk Management Department directly at (205) 934-5382.
The UAB Travel Portal should be used to obtain an airline ticket for travel by a UAB Trainee. If the UAB Travel Portal is not used, the trainee must purchase the ticket personally and then apply for reimbursement after the trip. A detailed itinerary and proof of payment are required as supporting documentation.
Request for reimbursement of taxi fares should only be made when the taxi trip was necessary for official UAB trainee travel purposes and when more economical forms of public transportation were unavailable or impractical. For example, free or lower cost airport shuttle vans should be used if possible, and taxis to/from meals would not normally be considered necessary if meal service was available in the traveler's hotel or within walking distance. Though documentation is not routinely required, trainees should be prepared to provide justification for the necessity and reasonableness of taxi fares if requested by the traveler's department, central administration, or auditors.
Receipts for reimbursable taxi fares should be obtained and submitted with the trainee's reimbursement request. In addition, the traveler should list each taxi trip on the travel voucher with a brief description of the purpose of the trip (e.g. "taxi from airport to hotel," "taxi from hotel to meeting," etc.). If a trainee pays the taxi fare for multiple persons, the documentation should also include a notation specifying everyone who was covered by that fare and the payment request numbers of those individuals, if applicable.
- Third Party Payments
- Phone Calls
- Conference Registration Fees
- Conference/Seminar Meals
- Unallowable Costs
Original receipts will be required for all expense reimbursement items other than reasonable cash tips. Reimbursement for such costs (to the extent otherwise permitted by policy) will be made to the individual trainee after the trip. Though the IRS 60-day rule does NOT apply to true trainees, efforts should be made to process travel reimbursement requests in a timely fashion.
Trainee travel payments must be based upon actual incurred cost, not estimates and not based upon a travel per diem.
Except for the conference registration fee and special airline ticket requisition procedures referenced below, trainees will be responsible for their travel expenses incurred in connection with their trainee travel.
Trainees should not pay costs on behalf of other individuals and expect to be reimbursed for the costs of those other individuals.
The cost of phone calls made by a trainee while in trainee travel status would not normally be allowable unless the trainee can document that the call was directly related to the traineeship project.
Conference registration fees for the trainee would normally be paid directly by UAB to the conference sponsor in advance of the trip via an electronic Oracle Payment Request charging the trainee travel object code. However, UAB may instead reimburse the traveler after the trip for conference registration fees paid by the individual when sufficient documentation is submitted with the UAB Trainee Travel Expense Reimbursement Request.
Documentation for conference registration fees should include evidence that the trainee (rather than UAB) did indeed pay the registration fee as well as conference brochures and/or registration forms clearly identifying the applicable costs. Social/recreational activities associated with a business conference are not normally reimbursable.
Where a trainee's meal is included in his/her conference/seminar registration fee, no additional reimbursement for that meal is allowable.
Submitting the Trainee Travel Expense Report Form
Because the Trainee Travel Expense Report form includes a certification statement, the trainee must personally sign the form (i.e. no one may sign the form for or on behalf of the trainee). Trainees should be careful because even if someone else assists the trainee with completion of the form, the trainee is still responsible for the truth and accuracy of the information reflected on the form. The expense report form is found in Oracle when trainees complete their travel payment request.
Of course, trainees should never request reimbursement for expenses which have already been, or will be, paid by UAB or by any other organization.
After appropriate review, the department should submit an electronic Oracle Payment Request, attaching the final Trainee Travel Expense Report form and receipts. The department must certify that the travel is a required integral part of the training program, by including the following statement on the Disbursement Requisition: "This travel is a required integral part of our training program."
To the extent that a trip is undertaken as "trainee travel" per the above definition, Oracle object code 8302030 "Trainee Travel" should be used to pay the authorized travel costs (and also for any associated conference registration fees). Employee travel object codes should never be used for trainee travel.