An employee who left the company recently has unclaimed expenses dating back 2.5 years. During his employment, he was asked many times to submit his claims, but he failed to do so. About 6 months ago, our company implemented a rule that expense claims must be submitted within 60 days. This employee was made aware of the policy. Now that the employee has left the company, he has submitted his expense claims. Can we refuse to reimburse the old ones?
It is unlikely you can refuse to pay the reimbursement, but it will depend on the source of the entitlement (i.e. award, enterprise agreement or contract) and how it is worded. For example, the entitlement to reimbursement for transport for shift workers under the Clerks Award will not expire after 2.5 years or for a failure to submit a claim within 60 days. However, if the entitlement is under contract and the contract states that reimbursements will be made in accordance with the company policy (which requires claims to be submitted within 60 days), the entitlement might expire.
On the whole, it is probably safer to pay the reimbursement regardless. Bear in mind that section 325 of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act) contains a prohibition on employers requiring employees to unreasonably spend amounts of their own money.