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UZH for Staff

FAQ /Examples of Expenses

Traveling in Europe: Train or Plane?

Urs Peter participates in a conference in Paris. The conference starts at 9:30am. The first train from Zurich reaches Paris at 11:00am, the earliest flight at 7:45am.

If a virtual conference participation is not an option, the journey Zurich – Paris forms the business trip [§5 para. 1 & §4 lit. a]. For destinations within a 6-hour journey (inbound or outbound), trains are the default means of transportation [§9 para. 2]. For destinations outside ZVV (public transport in the Canton of Zurich), UZH compensates 1st class train tickets [§6 para. 1], e.g. to allow for more quiet work on the journey. 2nd class travel is always an option.

How to handle Urs Peter’s example:

  • Given that the earliest train does not arrive on time for the start of the conference, Urs Peter can travel to Paris the previous day and claim the expense for an extra overnight stay [§12 para. 1].
  • If work-related or private reasons (e.g. childcare) do not allow for travel on the previous day, Urs Peter chooses the earliest flight [§9 para. 2]. As this is not an intercontinental flight, UZH compensates economy class tickets [§9 para. 3].
  • For the train or the transfer to the airport, the distance from Urs Peter’s on-site place of work (here: Zurich) is compensated – unless the journey from Urs Peter’s place of residence (e.g. Basel) were shorter [§4 lit. b].

Repeated business trips by train: A/which travelcard?

Barbara Peter is involved in a joint research project with the University of Lausanne. Part of Barbara Peter’s work must be done on site in Lausanne. As a result, Barbara Peter is expected to have several business Trips from Zurich to Lausanne in the next 12 months.

If an employee can expect several business trips within a timeframe of 12 months, it’s worth checking if compensating a travelcard is the better option.

How to handle Barbara Peter’s example:

  • A couple of months ago, Barbara Peter bought a private half-fare travelcard for CHF 185. If she uses this card on a first class return trip to Lausanne, the ticket costs CHF 127. UZH compensates Barbara Peter’s ticket at half-fare price. In addition, as the cost of this ticket exceeds 50 % of the price of the half-fare travelcard, Barbara Peter is entitled to receive compensation for the travelcard as well [§6 para. 2]. Depending on the distance, one business trip can thus justify a travelcard.
  • Depending on how often Barbara Peter travels to Lausanne, another travelcard (for the journey Zurich-Lausanne or a GA travelcard for all of Switzerland) might be an option. The choice depends on whether the cost of the travelcard is lower than the sum of the expected journeys at half-fare price combined with the price of the half-fare travelcard itself [§7 para. 2]. If this calculation justifies a GA travelcard, Barbara Peter needs to make an application with human resources /the professorships department to get approval for the GA travelcard from the Director of Finance [§7 para. 3 & 4].
  • If Barbara Peter already has a private GA travelcard and the number of business trips to Lausanne does not exceed the cost of this travelcard, UZH compensates the individual trips at half-fare price [§6 para. 3]. As Barbara Peter does not have tickets for these trips, an in-lieu receipts (e.g. a list of the business trips with date and half-fare prices and a copy of the GA travelcard) suffices for the expense receipt [§3 Abs. 3]. For specialists: the class of the GA travelcard must match the price of the trips, i.w. employees traveling with a 2nd class GA can claim the sum of the 2nd class half-fare trips.

How can we handle transfers between on-site places of work?

To run analyses, Urs Peter often travels between two labs located at Irchel and Schlieren. These journeys happen within the same day.

If a transfer between two places of work cannot be done on foot, cantonal law considers it a business trip [§4 lit. c]. Public transport should be used as much as possible. UZH compensates extra travel cost [§5 para. 2 & §3 para. 1]. If public transport is not an option (e.g. because it takes far longer), private transportation or share mobility/taxi services can be used.

In Urs Peter’s example:

  • If Urs Peter uses his private car, UZH compensates CHF 0.70 per kilometer, if he uses his own (e-)bike or motorcycle, the rate is CHF 0.35 per kilometer [§8 para. 2].
  • For shared mobility services (Publibike, e-scooters, etc.) or taxis, effective costs are compensated [§8 para. 3 & 4]. Please remember to submit the receipts.

Are flights exclusively economy class?

Barbara Peter has a talk at a US university. Due to an injury, the legroom in an economy class would be insufficient.
Generally, UZH compensates economy class flight tickets. If that is not an option as in Barbara Peter’s case, owners of areas of responsibility can approve economy first or business class tickets for intercontinental flights, both for their employees and for themselves [§9 para. 3]. Without this approval, employees must bear the extra cost for their chosen class (as compared to an economy class ticket).

Other things that might bear on Barbara Peter’s example:

  • Given the financial and time constraints, non-stop flights should be preferred for sustainability reasons [§9 para. 4].
  • An additional overnight stay is compensated if it brings down total travel cost (e.g. due to a cheaper flight) [§ 12 para. 2].

What about meals during business trips?

Barbara Peter’s hotel does not offer breakfast. She goes to a nearby café and pays CHF 18.--. After her talk, she gets lunch at the University for CHF 24.--. In the evening, she joins a colleague in a nice restaurant and dines for CHF 93.--.

For meals on business trips, effective costs are covered up to a maximum of CHF 20.-- for breakfast, lunch, and dinner separately. Barbara Peter receives CHF 58.--: The cost of her breakfast is covered in full, lunch and dinner in part, CHF 20.—each time [§10 para. 1].

What about guests (e.g. invited speakers)?

Urs Peter organizes a workshop at the University of Zurich. As keynote speakers, he invites two colleagues from other European Universities. During the workshop, lunch is offered to all participants. After the workshop, Urs Peter invites his two colleagues to dinner, paying CHF 250.-- for the three of them, including a CHF 20.-- tip.

Travel and accommodation expenses for the invited speakers follow the same rules as those of UZH employees [§1 para. 2]. In this case, that means a 1st class train ticket (for journeys up to 6 hours) and the required number of overnight stays plus breakfast in a suitable hotel (mid-price range in Zurich). This cost is categorized as “third party travel” in the expense claim.
The joint dinner falls into another cost category, namely representation expenses for UZH guests [§14 para. 1 & 3]. The owner of the area of responsibility paying the expense has to agree, and the expense must be commensurate with the purpose of the event [§14 para. 2]. In the expense claim, the names, and functions of all invitees as well as the restaurant must be documented. If tips are given, they must be visible in the documentation (e.g. by providing the original bill and the card receipt) [§17 para. 4].

How about internal events?

To celebrate the close of a major project, Barbara Peter invites the team for lunch, paying CHF 350.-- for seven people.

Since the invitation doesn’t include guests, it falls into the “staff-related cost” category (also “other staff cost”) [§16 para. 1]. The regulations for approval (owner of corresponding area of responsibility), appropriateness and expense claim are identical to those for representation expenses in the previous example [§16 para. 2 & 3].

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