A question about travel expenses

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Free Member
Apr 5, 2012
Hi all,

I employ a number of service engineers who travel each day from home to any number of different sites. We are based in Central London and most of the sites they visit are also in Central London, but a tube ride away from the office. They very occasionally call into the office to pick some parts up but have no desk or working facilities here. I think that they should be able to claim all of their travel expenses, as by my interpretation of this:

EIM32366 - Travel expenses: travel in the performance of the duties: travelling appointments
Section 337 ITEPA 2003

An employee who holds a travelling appointment can deduct all of their business travelling expenses as travel in the performance of the duties of the employment, even where the journey starts from home.

There is little guidance in case law about what constitutes a travelling appointment but a commercial traveller can be said to be typical. A commercial traveller is travelling on his or her work, as distinct from travelling to it, from the moment of leaving home. Another example is a service engineer who moves about from place to place during the day carrying out repairs to domestic appliances at clients' premises. Such employees are often described as itinerant.

If an employee has to report to and work at a particular office at the start and end of the day, travel between there and home is not travel in the performance of the duties, unless the calls at that office are fortuitous or incidental.

Whether an employee is truly itinerant, or merely has two or more fixed places of work, is essentially a question of fact. There are bound to be marginal cases.

Many jobs require mobility, in the sense that an employee will have to work at a number of different places from week to week or month to month. But this does not mean that the duties themselves inherently involve travelling, merely that the employee will not always incur the same cost in getting to (or staying near) work. Clearly the frequency with which such changes take place is of major importance. There will be a strong presumption that anyone required to go to a number of different sites each day on an irregular basis will have a travelling appointment. Other factors, however, also need to be taken into account, such as the nature of the work itself and whether, for pay purposes, the employee is treated as starting work only on reaching each site.

It is important, therefore, when an employee considers that he or she has a travelling appointment, to obtain as much information as possible about work patterns. If necessary, ask for a record covering a typical period of weeks or months.

Even if the employee does not have a travelling appointment it is likely that for many such employees every place that they attend is a temporary workplace. So relief for their business travel is likely to be due under Section 338 ITEPA 2003, see EIM32005.

is that they are itinerant and therefore have Travelling Appointments.

Our accountant thinks that because most of the sites they visit are in London and our office is also in London, that they can only claim travel from the office, to the sites, which I think would only be applicable IF they had a desk/base/workspace at the office and ever worked here?

The ones that live outside of London buy a season ticket at up to £5k per annum, so the difference in cost to them could be quite significant.

Is this black and white or open to interpretation?

Thanks in advance.
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