When your employees are working away from their main workplace, or on a business trip, you may reimburse them for the cost of meals they need to buy while they are away. There is no cap on the amount you can reimburse, as long as the employee provides receipts to support the expense.
In practice most employers limit what can be claimed for meals. Since 2009 HMRC has accepted that employers can reimburse meal costs up to certain benchmark amounts such as: £5 for breakfast or £15 for evening meal. Receipts are not required if the cost is within those benchmarked limits.
From 6 April 2016 a new set of maximum rates for meal costs will apply. The new rates vary according to the number of hours the employee is travelling away from the normal workplace: £5 for at least 5 hours, to £25 for 15 or more hours. An additional meal costing up to £10 can be claimed if the employee is still travelling at 8pm.
These meal rates are payable in addition to the cost of travel, which includes travelling to a temporary workplace. But they can’t be paid as part of a salary sacrifice scheme