Guidance re: COVID-19 Travel Suspension

The President’s Office made an announcement on March 8th, 2020 regarding SJSU Travel:

Effective immediately, San Jose State University and its auxiliary organizations have suspended all international and non-essential domestic travel from now through the end of the spring semester (May 31, 2020). This includes suspension of travel approved prior to March 8, 2020. 

In light of this announcement, we would like to clarify what this means for our campus community.

Individuals with previously approved travel authorizations will be notified via email that their authorization to travel has been revoked.

Essential Travel. In the rare instance travel could be deemed essential, please submit a written justification to your supervisor. Supervisors should carefully review these requests with a focus on employee and community safety. The goal of this travel restriction is to minimize spread of the virus. Travel deemed essential by an employee’s supervisor will be forwarded to the appropriate Dean or Associate Vice President for review.  Vice Presidents (or their designee) maintain final approval for essential travel. Essential travel is not authorized until VP approval is obtained.

Future travel, including summer and fall 2020, will be determined as the COVID-19 situation evolves.

Reimbursement of Employee-Incurred Expenses

  • The travel reimbursement process via FTS will be used to claim costs incurred for cancelled travel.
  • Travelers should make every effort to claim a refund. Many airlines, hotels and car rental companies are refunding or crediting individuals who personally prepaid these transactions.
  • Travelers should collect and maintain documentation about the refund/credit request and outcome.
  • Refund requests that were denied by the travel partner are eligible for reimbursement. These reimbursement requests will require supporting documentation showing the request for refund was denied. Please submit a travel reimbursement claim via FTS.
  • Refunds granted in the form of a voucher for later use will be treated as a travel advance. The traveler may immediately submit a travel reimbursement claim for the expense. If the travel advance (airline voucher, etc.) is not applied to university-related business travel before it expires, it will be reported as income subject to payroll tax withholding per IRS regulations.

For Expenses Incurred by the Department (typically on a GoCard)

  • Travelers/departments should make every effort to claim a refund. Many airlines, hotels and car rental companies are refunding or crediting individuals who personally prepaid these transactions.
  • GoCard holders should collect and maintain documentation about the refund/credit request and outcome.
  • During the GoCard reconciliation process, please attach any supporting documentation and code all COVID-19 related travel expenses with class code 4716. This will facilitate later reimbursement by the university. Credits on GoCards statements from travel partners should be coded the same way.
  • Refunds granted in the form of a voucher for later use should be tracked by the department and used at the earliest opportunity.

Departments should review prior GoCard statements for costs incurred in previous months and enter an expenditure transfer to add class code 4716 to the transaction. While an extra step, it will best ensure departments receive reimbursement for costs associated with cancelled trips.

Travel Funded by External Sponsoring Agencies

In addition to guidelines stated in the SJSU Research Foundation Travel Policy, sponsoring agencies also have their own travel guidelines. Travel funded by external sponsors must be related to project activity and must be allowable, allowable, and reasonable.

In the event that travel plans must be cancelled, requests for reimbursement of travel-related expenses such as airfare, hotel, registration, and cancellation fees will be reviewed on a case by case basis. Requests must be approved by the SJSU Research Foundation, and in some cases would also require sponsor approval. Please contact your assigned Sponsored Programs manager for assistance or with any questions regarding travel reimbursement requests.

Please reach out to FinanceConnect at 4-1558 or financeconnect@sjsu.edu if you have any questions about this process.

Update- New State Added to the Restricted Travel List

With the effective date October 4, 2019, Iowa has been added to Assembly Bill 1887, the law restricting the funding or sponsoring of state business travel to states with discriminatory laws.

The current list of restricted states are as follows:

  • Alabama
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Mississippi
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas

Background
As of January 1, 2017, the CSU Travel Policy and Procedures has been revised to comply with Assembly Bill 1887, which added Section 11139.8 to the Government Code relating to discrimination and was approved by the governor in September, 2016. As a result of this law, it has been determined that SJSU is restricted from requiring employees to travel to certain states, and is prohibited from approving funding or sponsoring travel to those states with laws enacted to void or repeal discrimination protections, or, to authorize or require discrimination.

Exceptions to the prohibitions that may be granted, and of note to SJSU, include the following (see SJSU Travel Guide for the complete list):

  • To meet contractual obligations incurred before January 1, 2017.
  • To participate in meetings or training required by a grant or required to maintain grant funding.
  • For the protection of public health, welfare, or safety, as determined by the CSU or other state agencies.
  • The list of affected states is maintained on the California State Attorney General website, State of California Department of Justice. Travelers and approvers are advised to check the website when planning or approving out-of-state travel. Auxiliary funds may be used for travel to restricted states.

References
SJSU Travel Guide
CSU Travel Procedures
Assembly Bill 1887
Office of the Attorney General

New Submission Process for Travel Reimbursement Claims for Non-SJSU Employees

Departments now have a more convenient, efficient, and paperless way to submit the paper Travel Reimbursement claims for non-SJSU employees such as students and candidates that cannot be submitted through FTS.

The Travel Reimbursement Request Form and support backup documentation can now be sent to Accounts Payable Travel Desk at a dedicated email: non-employee-travel@sjsu.edu. This email account is for submissions only. Do contact the Travel Desk with any questions related to payment status or to confirm if the request was received. The new process is a temporary improvement until we complete development of a portal similar to e-Invoice for departments to use.

When preparing the reimbursement request, please note the following:

  • Manual or electronic signatures (e.g. DocuSign) on the Travel Reimbursement Request form are acceptable.
  • In the email submission, attach one file containing the completed and approved request form and backup such as receipts.
  • Reference the Traveler’s name and department in the email subject line.
  • Please do not send us the hardcopy.

Current SJSU employees are to use FTS to submit their Travel Authorization and Reimbursement. If you have any questions regarding the travel process or policy, contact Jasmine Velazquez of the Travel Desk at 4-1674 or jasmine.velazquez@sjsu.edu.