Entertainment, Events, and Meals

Entertainment Guidelines

An entertainment event expense is incurred when meals, light refreshments and/or related goods and services are purchased using University funds in connection with a social or recreational activity, business meeting or other event. Event expenses require authorization from an Event Expense Certifier (EEC) in accordance with UC Business Finance Bulletin: BUS-79 – Expenditures for Entertainment, Business Meetings, and Other Occasions. Expenses may be paid directly to a vendor (Purchase Order), recharged by other campus units (Recharge), or paid out-of-pocket and reimbursed (Reimbursement).

Every UCSC-hosted event or activity must:

  1. Have a direct, substantial University business purpose
  2. Must be paid from an allowable funding source
  3. Must occur on an infrequent basis per group, organization, or committee. Meals or light refreshments may be provided to non-employee students on a more frequent basis.
    • Payment or reimbursement for meals is limited to no more than once a month, or twelve times a year
    • Payment or reimbursement for light refreshments is limited to no more than twice per month
  4. Be reasonable in cost given the purpose of the event from the perspective of an objective third-party observer
  5. Not result in an employee or student receiving a taxable fringe benefit under IRS regulations
  6. Not involve making a contribution to a political campaign or candidate
  7. Have an Official Host (UCSC employee or other individual serving as the University's principal representative) attend for entertainment, employee morale, recruitment, and student outreach events
  8. Have at least one University employee or other individual representing the University at business meetings

Events and related expenses must be reported and authorized. Four methods are available:

  1. Entertainment Reporting Form (ERF)
    Event reporting, dining services paper recharge form, and out-of-pocket reimbursements
  2. CruzBuy Food & Entertainment Form (F&E)
    Purchase order
  3. CruzBuy UCSC Catering Recharge Form
    UCSC Catering Services online recharge form
  4. Meal Expense Tracker (MET)
    Online form to assist units in calculating an accurate per-person meal cost when multiple requisitions are needed.

Restricted Top Level Entertainment requires Pre-Approval from the Division:

Humanities Top Level Entertainment Pre-Approval Form

View the Humanities Division Entertainment Authorization Matrix to see a list of division-wide Event Order Approvers (EOA) or Event Expense Certifiers (EEC).

The Entertainment Reporting Form (ERF) is an electronic form that serves as the payment form for out-of-pocket reimbursements and Dining Services recharges. Authorized ERF's are sent to Financial Affairs for policy reporting requirements and payment disbursements. Divisional and/or departmental requirements may include additional steps and approvals from what is referenced in this guide; consult with a Business Manager or Event Order Approver (EOA) for clarification.

Creating and Accessing

ERF's are created and accessed from the Financial Affairs Dashboard, which is a centralized webpage for Financial Affairs' processes and information. An ERF may be created before or after an event occurs. Once created, an ERF is assigned an ERF number. This number should be used when communicating about the specific ERF.

Completing and Submitting

ERF's progress through three statuses: 

  1. In Progress: Add, edit, and update event information and expenses. An ERF begins in this status. You may maintain and edit an In Progress ERF for many weeks or months.
  2. Submitted: Locks form electronically. An ERF is now ready to be reviewed, printed and authorized: 
    • Pre-Event Approval and Review - Refer to a Business Manager or Event Order Approver (EOA) for divisional/departmental pre-approval and review processes at this point. Do not send any pre-event approval items to Financial Affairs; only post-event.
    • Post-Event Authorization and Processing - Submit authorized ERFs to Financial Affairs (mailstop: Accounting) for processing. All submitted ERF's must have event expense information that does not exceed approved amounts. Be sure to include any Required Supporting Documentation
    • Update ERF as Necessary - An ERF can be sent back to 'In Progress' for updates and edits at any point in the 'Submitted' step. Subsequent re-submit revisions may require the ERF to be re-printed and new approvals given.
  3. Closed: ERF has been reviewed and payments processed by Financial Affairs. Notification via email to the form creator will be sent when processing is completed.

Checked In/Checked Out

Since the ERF is an electronic form that multiple people can access, a checked in/checked out system is used. When accessing an ERF, it is checked out to you, meaning no one else can access it. When you are done, you must check in the form, which makes it available for others to then check out.

Read Only Access

Individuals must have access to an ERF to edit it. Review Access and Permissions below for details of to whom and how this access is granted. If an individual does not have access to edit an ERF, they will be presented with a Read Only view. This is identical to the submitted view, and has large 'Read Only' banners added between sections. The Read Only view is available for ERFs that are in the Submitted status. In Progress ERFs do not have a Read Only view.

  • Business meetings
  • Programmatic activity
  • Recruitment
  • Per person max rate: $27 Breakfast; $47 Lunch; $81 Dinner; Light refreshments $19
Allowable but restricted. Requires top-level approval (Dean) and you cannot use 19900 funds:
  • Employee morale
  • Alcohol served
  • Tickets or cash contributions
  • Spouse/partner/family invited
  • Per-person max rates exceeded
Never allowed:
  • Political campaign expense
  • Restricted fund source
  • Taxable income to an employee
  • Personal use
  • Employee morale event that occurs frequently/regularly
  • Meetings held outside typical business hours that could be held during business hours
  • Birthdays, anniversaries, etc. 
  • Farewell gathering for employee leaving for another UC
  • Farewell gathering less < 5 years at UCSC

Campus Entertainment Expense Guides - view for more detailed definitions of Entertainment

Entertainment FAQ

Do I have to submit an ERF?
Entertainment reporting policies require the approval from an EEC on every Entertainment-related expenditure. Chairs are the EEC for the departments, and the Finance Director and Assistant Dean are the EEC for the Division. If you submit a catering recharge, it goes through CruzBuy, and Chairs do not have CruzBuy approval, therefore they must approve through an Entertainment Reporting Form --attach the ERF with approvals to the requisition. 

Is my year-end event a programmatic event or an employee-morale event?
A programmatic event is not a top-level event and does not require the dean's approval. An employee-morale event is a top-level event and does require dean's approval. To determine which category your event falls under look at your audience. If the majority of your guests are students it's a programmatic event. If the majority of your guests are faculty/staff it's employee-morale. Employee morale events are approved as long as they are not frequently recurring e.g. greater than every 30 days.

Can I use 19900 funds for my event?
You cannot use 19900 funds for employee-morale events or for events that serve alcohol. You can split off the alcohol-related expenses using a non-19900 FOAPAL.

How do I get the Dean's Approval?
If your event requires top-level approval, you can either attach the ERF in an email with request for signature to humdean@ucsc.edu or drop off your paperwork at the Dean's Office front desk and pick it up the next day.

Please provide the following information in the email or as a cover sheet: Subject: Top-level approval needed. Email body: Summarize why it's top level e.g. I am requesting top-level approval because there is alcohol served.