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Business Meals, Entertainment, and Hospitality Expenses

Business Meals


Business meals are those taken with business associates, university guests, job applicants, professional colleagues, or donors during which University business discussions take place.  Business meals are also those taken with other employees when, to ensure privacy and confidentiality, must be conducted off campus.  When authorized by the department head, business meals may also be taken for the purpose of employee recognition or reward. 

  • Faculty, Staff and students may be reimbursed for approved, necessary and reasonable business meal expenditures.
  • Business meal expenses, including gratuities, should follow the guidelines set forth in the Annual Spending Guidelines.  This is the maximum amount permitted.
    • Individual departments may issue more restrictive spending guidelines.
  • The number of Brown hosts accompanying a guest for lunch or dinner should be no more than four, unless it is held at the Faculty Club. 
  • Exceptions to policy require a Senior Officer approval.
  • Hospitality reimbursement for family members is not permitted unless there is a specific business purpose for the family member’s attendance at the event.  IRS publication 463 states:  “you generally cannot deduct the cost of entertainment for your spouse or for the spouse of a customer.  However, you can deduct these costs if you can show you had a clear business purpose, rather than a personal or social purpose, for providing the entertainment.”
  • Receipts are required for all business meal expenses.  When a receipt is unavailable, a Missing Receipt Affidavit is required along with supporting documentation, such as a credit card statement.

Unallowable Expenses

Meals taken between two or more University employees where routine business issues are discussed are generally not reimbursable from any University funding source.  We encourage all employees to use their judgment as to when such meals are non routine and therefore could be reimbursable by the University.  Whenever possible, those meals should be held at the Faculty Club.  Also, expenses incurred in relation to the following events are considered to be personal in nature and therefore not reimbursable:  birthdays, weddings, births, showers, administrative professional’s day, or parties not sponsored by the department and made available to all employees of the department. 


Certain functions and events are considered business entertainment if they are intended to provide hospitality to individuals outside the University when considered necessary and customary in furthering the University’s interests.

Some examples of business entertainment may include:

  • Receptions for University guests and visitors
  • Alumni reunions or similar alumni events
  • Entertaining donors or prospective donors
  • Welcoming receptions for parents and students

In keeping with the University’s ‘Brown First’ policy, departments are required to arrange such events through Brown Dining or the Faculty Club.

Meals paid for by the University should fall within the guidelines posted in the Annual Spending Guidelines.  It is recognized that there may be limited circumstances, such as entertaining a distinguished visitor or at a dinner meeting during travel, when the cost of dinner may exceed this limit.  Such exceptions require Senior Officer approval.  


Refreshments provided at University or departmental business activities such as committee meetings, business presentations, or in honor of University guests are allowable.  Such expenses should be kept to a reasonable level of cost and occurrence.

The purchase of bottled water for reception areas where there is public traffic (employees, students, visitors) is allowable.

Temporary parking permits purchased for visitors through the University’s Parking Office are allowable however, payment or reimbursement of parking tickets, even if incurred during the course of University business, is unallowable.

Alcoholic Beverages

At no time may alcoholic beverages be offered or served to adults under the age of 21.

The use of alcoholic beverages while in the conduct of University business should be kept to a minimum.  In no instance may alcoholic beverages be charged to federally funded grants or contracts, either directly or indirectly.

If alcoholic beverages are purchased, the expense must be charged to “exclusions”.

All University-sponsored events held on campus, at which alcoholic beverages are served, require that either Brown Dining or the Faculty Club (or their approved substitute) be engaged for the purpose of providing and serving these beverages.

Serving alcoholic beverages at a University event off campus, such as in an employee’s private home, is strongly discouraged.  In such instances where alcoholic beverages are to be available, the sponsor of the event must complete and have approved the Statement of Responsibility for Alcoholic Beverages form.  Attach the form to the request for reimbursement.

Reimbursement Procedures

  • Request reimbursement for business meals, entertainment, and hospitality expenses through the Workday Expenses worklet. 
  • A detailed business purpose for the expense must be entered into the memo field. 
  • Receipts must be attached. 
  • Receipts for business meals and/or hospitality expenses must be attached to the Authorization and Documentation for Business Meals and Hospitality Expenses form.  The form is then attached to the Workday expense reimbursement request. 
  • When a receipt is unavailable, a Missing Receipt Affidavit is required along with supporting documentation, such as a credit card statement.