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Standard and Special Entertainment

If you're an employee authorized to act as a designated host to entertain on behalf of UC Merced, ensure the entertainment activity is directly related to university business and does not personally benefit you or other employees.

Note: GNT/CNT project segments cannot be used for entertainment expenses.

Standard Entertainment

Types and purposes

Standard entertainment includes meal or light refreshment expenses for:

  • Hosting prospective donors to generate goodwill
  • Hosting official guests, including:
    • Visitors from other universities
    • Members of the community
    • Employees visiting from another work location

Recruitment, where expenses are either:

  • Funded from a source designated for graduate student, athletic, or professional recruitment
  • Related to recruitment for positions requiring specialized training or specialized professional, technical, or administrative experience

Receptions, in conjunction with:

  • Conferences (receptions not included in the registration fee)


Review fund-source restrictions when serving alcohol.

Events where expenses exceed the per-person maximum are considered special entertainment.

Special Entertainment

Types and Purposes

Special entertainment includes meal or light refreshment expenses for events with expenses exceeding the maximum allowable per-person cost and for certain types of activities regardless of the expense.

The following circumstances are considered special entertainment:

Cost exceeds the per-person maximum

When entertainment costs exceed the per-person maximum an Exception to Policy should be submitted for department approavl and Controller review. A written justification as to why the higher costs were unavoidable and necessary to achieve the UC Merced business purpose of the activitiy.

Even with the appropriate justification and approval, costs may not exceed the per-person maximum by more than 200%. If this were to occur; UC Merced Travel & Expense Management is required to send a special request to the Chancellor for review and approval, and it is limited to special circumstances.

Participants include a spouse, partner or family member

Entertainment expenses for a spouse, partner or family member can be approved only if there is a bona fide business purpose for attending the event, such as:

  • Recruitment
  • Alumni gatherings (non-UC Merced employees)

If the purpose of attendance fits the above requirements, a Higher Approval form should be filled out and approved by the department and reviewed by the Controller to attach with reimbursement. For events where there's no business purpose served by a spouse, partner, or family member's attendance, the employee should pay for their guest's portion.

Employee Morale or Holiday Gatherings

Faculty and staff morale-boosting functions, such as appreciation, recognition, length of service, retirement, farewell, picnics or holiday gatherings, must serve a UC Merced business purpose and can be approved using a Higher Approval form submitted for Controller review, as special entertainment if costs are:

  • Limited to only the employees in attendance
  • Within the allowable cost-per-person
  • Permitted under the fund source

If expenses exceed the per-person meal maximum, justification is required, including reasons why the higher costs were unavoidable and necessary to achieve a business purpose.

Note:  A retirement or farewell celebration requires that the employee is separating from UCM after at least 5 years of service.