By Lea Pachta

Almost one in thirty small and medium enterprises (SME) employees has falsely claimed expenses according to research commissioned by fuelGenie, the first ever business fuel card exclusively for use at multiple supermarket forecourts. At a time when business profits are under immense pressure, small businesses need to have robust expense practices in place — failure to do so will have a significant impact on a company’s bottom line.

Sarah Keane at fuelGenie said: “The fact that UK SME employers are allowing any employees to falsely claim expenses is astounding given the current economic situation. SME owners need to clamp down on staff dishonesty — their number one objective right now should be to control costs and conserve cash to prevent profits being further eroded — false expense claims undermine this goal.”

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Worryingly, the research found that workers in the finance sector are the most likely to lie about their expenses with nearly one in five (18.2%) admitting to having falsely claimed expenses. This means that for a finance SME with 200 staff, around 36 employees could be dishonestly submitting expenses. The figure for finance SME employees was significantly higher than for any other industry sector.

Younger employees, in the 16-24 yr old age bracket, are also the worst offenders when it comes to lying about their expenses, with 8.3% having falsely claimed an expense. Older employees (45-54 yr olds) are the most honest — 98.2% submit honest claims.

Sarah Keane says: “There are a number of measures employers can take to prevent employees from falsely claiming expenses. For example, managers should never accept expenses without a valid receipt and those who authorise expense payments should be trained so they know when to challenge a claim. Companies should also ensure that they have sound, up-to-date expense practices and that all staff are fully aware of them.”

Keane continues: “One way for SMEs to control expense submissions is to provide staff with an expenses card and a clear set of usage guidelines. For example, managers can offer staff a fuel card for business-related petrol, such as the fuelGenie card, which provides an easy way for businesses to carefully track, measure and control fuel usage and expenditure.”

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