TEST YOURSELF #3- Per Diem Entitlement
Assume that you have a union member who performed official travel to Pennsylvania, leaving his home in Ohio at 7:15 a.m. and returning at 8:15 p.m. Is the employee entitled to any per diem allowance if she spent an hour each way commuting from her Ohio home to the Pennsylvania work site?
Normally, if an employee spends 12 or more hours in travel status the employee is entitled to per diem. However, many agencies argue that any time actually traveling, e.g., driving your car to and from, is not credited toward that 12 hours. But when agencies do that they do so in error. The Civilian Contract Appeals Board (CBCA) made it clear not long ago that the actual rule is
“. . .in settling federal employee travel and relocation expense claims, travel status ‘normally begins or ends with the individual’s departure from or return to his or her PDS [permanent duty station], home, or other authorized point.’” Chalonec, CBCA 2422-TRAV, March 2, 2011
The Board ordered the agency to pay the employee $49.50. Had this case to arbitration, the agency could very well have been liable for attorney fees, which would have made its fight a very expensive one.