Research released today states that one in four employees has bent the rules when making an expenses claim at work – potentially claiming back more than they are entitled to on company expenses. Worryingly, of those that admitted to bending the rules, one in five said they didn’t even feel guilty about breaking them.

The research, conducted by webexpenses with 1,000 UK office workers, also reveals that a quarter of respondents agreed the longer you stay with a company, the more likely you are to bend the rules. What’s more, men were found to be the worst offenders when it comes to false or exaggerated claims, with 28% of those surveyed confessing to breaking the rules, compared to just 22% of women.

In addition, people aged between 16 and 24 were identified as the worst offending age group, with almost one in three admitting to having bent the rules at some point. The survey identified those working in the arts and culture sector as the worst culprits (72%), compared to just 7% of those working in the legal sector.

Michael Richards, Chairman of webexpenses, commented: “The results of our research are very revealing when it comes to looking at company expenses. Not only have a quarter admitted to bending the rules, but 70% of our respondents also stated that their expenses claims have never been queried or rejected by their employer. Although this does not necessarily suggest that a high proportion of expense claims are being exaggerated, it does however show that some false claims could still be slipping under the radar unchecked – possibly due to a complacent attitude towards expenses by both employers and their employees.

“Managing expenses can be tricky for all companies. Based on our findings, it is clear that UK companies may need to look more closely at their expense policies and the systems they are using to process claims. With almost 50% of respondents saying that their company didn’t use computer software to manage expenses, it’s not surprising that some claims are able to slip through the net.

As well as looking at company expense cultures, the research also assessed office workers and the actions they would take in a number of everyday scenarios relating to claims. The research found that over 40% would claim back on expenses for their breakfast if they had an early morning meeting, with a further 42% saying they would claim expenses for the mileage to a client meeting and then back to their home rather than their company’s headquarters.