It’s one of those acronyms that’s regularly heard whenever employee expenses are being discussed: ‘T&E’. You will see references to everything from T&E spend and fraud to T&E policies and providers.
What does ‘T&E’ actually mean?
And the answer isn’t as straightforward as it might first seem. The acronym ‘T&E’ has two interpretations: either ‘travel and entertainment’ or ‘travel and expenses’.
T&E is a commonly used acronym, but it's rarely found in any kind of government or administrative documentation. Consequently, there are no sources for a clear and authoritative definition.
The closest thing we have is provided by Business Dictionary which defines travel and entertainment expenses as:
“An expense incurred by an employee while he/she is traveling for business purposes or entertaining a business client. Examples of traveling expenses include money spent on lodging, transportation, and meals.”
T&E is used to refer to any costs associated with an employee travelling away from their permanent workplace. It covers a wide range of expenses, such as transportation, accommodation, meals, and incidentals. T&E is a shorthand way of referring to employee expenses, or the reimbursement of expenses incurred by employees while travelling for business.
Global differences: US vs UK
In the US, 'T&E' is a common acronym, while 'T&S' is becoming increasingly popular in the UK. This means ‘travel and subsistence’ and can be found used in government documentation.
The acronym is regularly used by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). They describe T&S as the cost of providing for employee work travel, accommodation, food and drink, and other ‘subsistence’. HMRC defines subsistence as the ‘necessary costs of travelling’, giving examples such as meals, parking charges, and business phone calls.
Why is T&E an important term for businesses to understand?
For most businesses, T&E costs represent the second largest controllable expenditure, behind employee wages. Ineffective management of business travel expenses can cause significant losses through error and fraud.
Without proper oversight, expenses can quickly add up and become a major drain on resources. To prevent this from happening, businesses must take measures to ensure that their T&E expenses are effectively tracked and managed. This can include setting up a travel policy that outlines the rules and procedures for making travel and entertainment purchases, as well as implementing solutions such as automated expense tracking software to simplify the process.
Additionally, businesses should conduct regular expense audits to identify areas of potential error or fraud, as well as ensure that the business is staying within its budget. By taking these steps, businesses can effectively manage their T&E costs and prevent unnecessary losses.