Hospitality (Procedure)

Hospitality (Procedure)

Topic: Financial and Operations
Approval Authority: Vice-President Finance and Administration

Description: Establishes guidelines so that hospitality expenses incurred on University business are incurred in an appropriate and reasonable manner; has associated policy.


1. This Procedure applies in respect of all hospitality expenditures paid from University operating, capital, ancillary, special purpose or research funds.

2. Hospitality expenses paid from externally established research accounts may only be incurred if they are permitted by the terms and conditions of the funding agreement, award, or contract.


Hospitality: Hospitality means the provision of food and beverages, social or recreational activities, events and functions, and gifts which are purchased in support of the educational, research or service activities of York University.
Internal hospitality: Hospitality organized principally for the benefit of York University employees, students and/or governors.
External hospitality: Hospitality organized principally for the benefit of individuals who are not employees, students or governors. Examples would include guests, donors, alumni, representatives from external organizations, etc.


1. The University is accountable for the effective and efficient use of its resources. Hospitality is accepted as having an appropriate business purpose and appropriate to the University’s circumstances.

2. While expenditures on celebrations of personal events in the lives of employees may not be paid from University funds, this Procedure does not intend to discourage these events or expressions from taking place. There is a venerable tradition at the University of faculty and staff voluntarily contributing personal funds for such celebrations. Where appropriate, the University allows the use of its facilities for such celebrations subject to availability, operational requirements, and prior approval of the relevant department head.


1. Hospitality expenses (excluding catered business meals and large functions) shall be approved in advance by the supervisor of the most senior employee in attendance at the function.

2. Catering for business meetings occurring during a normal working day shall be approved by the signing authority of the cost centre to be charged.

3. Functions with 50 people or more shall be approved by the signing authority of the cost centre to be charged.

4. Additional approvals may be required as outlined in the Guidelines below.


Any departure from this Procedure shall be made only after advance approval from a Vice-President or the President upon written justification.


Eligible Hospitality

1. Appropriate hospitality charges include:

i.     events hosted or sponsored for the purpose of promoting the University’s work or enhancing its image;
ii.    meals at which University business is transacted; and
iii.   hosting other employees in circumstances where the nature and sensitivity of the University business discussion requires privacy.

2. Other expenditures allowable for hospitality are those incurred:

iv.   in the recruitment of faculty and staff, including expenses of the principal individuals involved in the decision-making process;
v.    in hosting students or student leaders, in nurturing leadership, developing affinity or recognizing contribution;
vi.   in hosting prospective students and parents for recruitment and advancement related activities;
vii.  in recognizing job performance;
viii. in hosting visitors to the University;
ix.   for volunteer recognition events;
x.    for donor cultivation and recognition;
xi.   for public relations events;
xii.  for University sponsored receptions;
xiii. for receptions to acknowledge long service or other awards to faculty, staff, students, and alumni for outstanding accomplishments;
xiv. for receptions to honour visitors, guests, or dignitaries;
xv.  for receptions for official openings of buildings, art exhibits, etc.; and
xvi. for ceremonies such as convocations or public announcements.

Expenditures for Alcoholic Beverages

3. Alcoholic beverages will be permitted expenditures for internal hospitality functions with the advance approval of the President or a Vice-President.

4. Expenses will be reimbursed for alcoholic beverages purchased for external hospitality if incurred at a moderate level appropriate to the circumstance.

Hospitality Involving Spouses

5. Hospitality may be extended to spouses, partners or family members of York employees when approved in advance by a Vice-President or the President.

Hospitality for Government Officials

6. Hospitality shall only be extended to government officials pursuant to the Broader Public Sector Expenses Directive issued by the Ontario Management Board of Cabinet as it exists from time to time.

Gifts to External Individuals

7. Reimbursement will be made for modest gifts given to individuals as “thank-you’s” for speaking or presenting at University events such as conferences, workshops, panels or guest lectures.

8. Reimbursement will be made for modest gifts given to individuals in countries where it is a cultural norm to do so provided that ethical business practices are not compromised.

Appreciation Items Given to Employees

9. Reimbursement will be made for gifts, other than gifts of money or gift certificates, given in appreciation of employee efforts beyond normal job responsibilities. Such appreciation gifts should be token (e.g., gifts of small value, such as University crested clothing, mugs, plaques, etc.)

Meals or Refreshments Served at Meetings

10. Reimbursement will be made for meals and/or refreshments provided at meetings attended by University faculty and staff as long as the purpose of the meeting is work-related (such as planning, education, collaboration, etc.) and the cost per individual is reasonable.

Retirement Functions

11. Expenses for retirement functions for long-serving faculty and staff will be reimbursed when:

i.  hosted at a reasonable cost; and
ii. approved in advance by a Vice-President or the President.

Departmental Social Functions

12. Expenses will be reimbursed to departments for costs of one unit-wide social event per year for its employees when approved in advance by a Dean, Vice-President or the President.

Reimbursement of Eligible Expenses

13. Employees who pay for hospitality and entertainment expenses may request reimbursement pursuant to the Reimbursement of Expenses Procedure.

14. Expenditures for large functions shall be billed directly to the University.


15. In order to charge the University for hospitality or to claim hospitality expense reimbursement, the following documentation is required:

  • a written account of the business purpose,
  • number of attendees, and
  • the names and affiliation of the attendees (i.e. the guest’s home institution/organization and his or her position).

Ineligible Expenses

16. Expenses incurred in relation to the following are considered the responsibility of the individuals participating or the employee(s) hosting the event:

i. celebrations of birthdays, weddings, births, or other functions;
ii. expressions of sympathy (including flowers, cards, etc. for bereavements).

Recovery of Ineligible Expenditures

17. Any hospitality expenditures that are charged to the University and subsequently determined to be ineligible will be recovered from the employee(s).


The Vice-President Finance and Administration shall authorize procedures and guidelines pursuant to this policy.


Reimbursement of Expenses Policy
Reimbursement of Expenses Procedure

Legislative History: Reviewed by the President and Vice-Presidents, May 2012. Approved by the Board Finance and Audit Committee, May 28, 2012, and the Board of Governors, June 25, 2012