Manual of Policies and Procedures

G/5.6 Hospitality and catering policy

Policy Owner

Executive Director, Finance and Deputy Chief Financial Officer

Approval Date


Approval Authority

Vice-President (Finance) and Chief Financial Officer

Date of Next Review


5.6.1 Policy
5.6.2 Policy guidelines
Related Documents
Modification History

5.6.1 Policy

QUT recognises that there are circumstances where the provision of hospitality is appropriate and can result in significant benefits for the University. As the University is a partially publicly funded body, it must ensure that public sector standards of accountability for hospitality and catering expenditure are maintained. The University is also obliged to identify principles and provide clarification of reasonable practice relating to hospitality and catering expenditure particularly as it relates to the nexus between these activities and the business undertakings of the University.

Hospitality may be extended to representatives of the press and other media, to representatives of government, business or industry, trade unions and recognised community organisations.

In certain cases, it may be appropriate periodically to provide hospitality to individuals of particular importance to the University.

This policy does not apply to functions organised on behalf of external parties that are on a full cost recovery basis.

Full details of procedures for approval and reimbursement of expenses are contained in the Financial Management Practice and Procedures Manual Chapter 3.

This policy augments the Register of Authorities and Delegations (QUT staff access only) by identifying those delegates who may approve hospitality related expenditure.


5.6.2 Policy guidelines

Expenditure on hospitality and catering must be for official purposes, must not be excessive, and should be able to withstand public scrutiny. All hospitality expenditure must be incurred for a specific outcome that can be demonstrated to be of benefit to the University. These outcomes should be documented at the time of approval.

Appropriate documentation to substantiate expenditure for hospitality and catering functions (and for Fringe Benefits Tax purposes) must be maintained.

Written approval should where practicable be obtained prior to the incurrence of all expenditure and for substantiation purposes. Where expenditure is to be incurred on events which can be classified as official functions and gatherings (eg large gatherings of staff and other guests), it is strongly recommended that prior written approval be obtained before the expenditure is incurred. In all cases, the financial delegate approving expenditure must be satisfied that the expenditure incurred, or to be incurred, is in relation to official duties, is reasonable and is publicly defensible.

Reimbursement claims for hospitality related expenditure must also comply with the University's policy on personal and private expenditure (G/5.2), namely that "Under no circumstances, should a financial delegate approve reimbursement claims for themselves. All reimbursements must be approved by the University officer's immediate superior, or a higher position if necessary and in accordance with relevant University policies and procedures." Refer also to the Financial Management Practice and Procedures Manual Chapter 3(I) - Reimbursements.

(a) Limits on hospitality

(i) Official functions involving formal dining:

Expenditure associated with business related hospitality and official functions involving formal dining can be approved by the following delegates:


Limit (includes GST but excludes FBT)

Head of school / department / independent section

Up to $75 per head

Deputy Vice-Chancellor / Vice-President / head of division / executive dean of faculty

In excess of $75 per head*

*While it is recognised that the cost of hospitality varies appreciably depending upon the venue and the nature of the function, there is an obligation to ensure that expenditure is not excessive. In this respect, the costs (per head per occasion) should be restricted to a reasonable level and alcohol consumption in particular should not be excessive.

Expenses in excess of this limit may be approved by Deputy Vice-Chancellors, Vice-Presidents, heads of division and executive deans of faculty, subject to the justification for the level of expenditure being appropriately documented. Circumstances where a cost in excess of this threshold would be appropriate include:

  • Reciprocation of the level of hospitality provided by international visitors who previously hosted relevant QUT staff members overseas;
  • Business luncheons where the per head costs include other appropriate expenses such as a contribution to a public speaking engagement (eg Business Leaders Forum).

(ii) Functions celebrating staff achievements, reward and recognition, and other in-house social events:

The limits in section (a)(i) above relate to hospitality and official functions, generally involving formal dining (ie "sit-down" meals) along with modest and publicly defensible refreshment expenditure.

For events involving finger food and drinks (such as staff end-of-year functions and reward and recognition functions), the expenditure per head at these functions should be considerably less than the limits referred to in section (a)(i) above and generally no more than $30 per head (GST inclusive). These events require the approval of the head of school / department / independent section. Any expenditure in excess of this amount should be approved by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Vice-President, executive dean of faculty or head of division.

As a general rule, the frequency of in-house staff functions paid for by the University should be limited to a reasonable level in support of University business and staff recognition and reward arrangements. However, staff are free to arrange and fund social events with their personal funds.

(b) Approved purposes

Expenditure for hospitality and official functions may be incurred where it is considered appropriate to facilitate the conduct of University business through persons who are able to do so, by advice or because of their vocation or business interest. However, such hospitality and catering should not be a substitute for regular or ongoing business meetings or for events such as normal gatherings of staff to discuss University business.

Expenses associated with hospitality and catering functions include expenditure required for domestic and overseas visitors (where the University has an interest in, or a specific obligation towards, facilitating the visit) and expenditure for representatives of government, business, industry, and recognised community organisations.

(c) Stocks of alcohol

Stocked liquor cabinets for small-scale entertainment may be maintained on the basis that they are provided primarily for the purpose of offering hospitality to external clients, and as a general rule not to be used for functions exclusively involving University staff.

Executive deans of faculty / heads of division and above would normally have access to appropriate office bar fridges. Additional bar fridges would require approval from the relevant executive dean of faculty or head of division.

Note: This approval does not apply to centrally managed liquor cabinets for functions run by QUT Council and its subordinate committees.

(d) Attendance of University staff at official functions (including student focused events)

The number of staff attending official functions should be limited to those with a direct involvement in the business being conducted, ie only those who will be able to advance the University's business should be in attendance.

Generally, the number of staff attending should comprise a minor or balanced proportion to external representatives. Expenditure should not be incurred for attendance of officers' partners, unless approved by the Vice-Chancellor and President.

(e) Working meals

The costs of morning and afternoon teas and working lunches of a moderate nature and consisting of finger food only (eg sandwiches) are not classed as official hospitality and are not subject to the procedural requirements of this policy. The University's definition of hospitality and official functions is based on the definition of Entertainment Expenditure contained in the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 (s.32-10) and related guidelines.

(f) Tipping

The University will not meet the costs of tipping, unless in exceptional circumstances or where dictated by national custom.

(g) Other expenses

Other types of expenses considered reasonable as official expenditure include:

  • tea/coffee, morning tea, or similar for official visitors
  • breakfast/lunch/dinner involving official visitors
  • light refreshments for internal meetings, conferences, workshops, and seminars
  • charges for attendance at official functions.

(h) Substantiation requirements

A thorough understanding of the substantiation requirements and procedures surrounding the payment of hospitality is essential to ensure that the University is not in breach of taxation regulations and therefore risk incurring hefty fines and penalties.

Detailed instructions on substantiation requirements can be found in the Financial Management Practice and Procedures Manual on the Financial Services website.


Related Documents

G/5.1 Expenditure of University funds

G/5.2 Personal and private expenditure

Register of Authorities and Delegations (QUT staff access only)



Modification History





26.07.22 All Vice-Chancellor and President Revised to update position title from Chief Financial Officer to Vice-President (Finance) and Chief Financial Officer



Acting Executive Director, Finance and Resource Planning

Policy reviewed – no change required



Executive Director, Finance and Resource Planning

Revised policy to ensure compliance with audit requirements (endorsed by Vice-Chancellor's Advisory Committee 22.02.06)



Executive Director, Finance and Resource Planning

Policy reviewed (no change required)



Executive Director, Finance and Resource Planning

Revised policy to ensure compliance with statutory and audit requirements (endorsed by Vice-Chancellor's Advisory Committee 20.05.04)



Financial Services Director

Revised policy in accordance with audit requirements



Finance and Facilities Department

Revised authority for the approval of hospitality expenditure