Research has shown that more than six million UK workers (22%) admit they regularly swindle their company expenses and on average employees take home an extra £14.60 a month through fraudulent claims.
A survey, completed by hotel chain Travelodge, showed that despite a large number admitting to fiddling claims, only 4% of employees had been caught by their bosses and 8% of employees said they would purposely add more to their monthly expense claim if their boss was annoying them.
Guy Parsons, chief operating officer at Travelodge, said: ‘Our research highlights some outrageous flouting of expense-claming policies but it is everyday claims that are being manipulated on a more regular basis.
‘Extra mileage claims or the odd bottle of wine while entertaining can really rack up a business bill over the year.’
The top three most popular claims are for petrol, train tickets and food or drink, although some of the more outrageous claims from employees include dancing lessons, a pregnancy-testing kit, a Gucci watch, a family trip to Disney World and a hamster for a son’s birthday present.
One employee even claimed for a new wardrobe of clothes after his wife threw him out of their home.
A similar study last year (Fleet News, October 5, 2006) revealed that one in 10 company motorists admitted to hiding personal purchases among their mileage expenses.
A total of 1,000 company drivers were asked about their fuel-buying habits and many admitted to using pay-and-reclaim schemes operated by their employers to mask other purchases, including cigarettes.
It has been estimated that fraud could account for 6% of a company’s turnover, costing a small to medium-sized business with a £10 million turnover up to £600,000.
Experts say automated expense systems could help prevent company car drivers’ fraud but any put in place needed proper review and monitoring to ensure they were effective.
Random audits on expense claims can also discourage employees from making false or exaggerated claims.