Q & A Session – Qualifying for a Per Diem Rate


Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.


How can a federal employee qualify for a per diem?


For a federal employee to qualify for a per diem, he/she must be on official travel away from their official duty station.  The “official duty station” means the geographic area surrounding an employee’s regular work site that is the same as the area designated by the employing agency for the purpose of determining whether travel time is compensable for the purpose of determining overtime pay.”  5 C.F.R. § 550.1403.  When designating the geographic area surrounding an employee’s regular work site that shall constitute an employee’s the “official duty station,” the agency “may prescribe a mileage radius of not greater than 50 miles to determine whether an employee’s travel is within or outside the limits of the employee’s official duty station for determining entitlement to overtime pay for travel.”  5 C.F.R. § 550.112(j).  As such, the Agency is authorized to determine, in its discretion, the geographic region that shall consist of an employee’s official duty station, so long as that geographic region does not exceed a 50 mile radius of the location of the employee’s permanent duty station.  Therefore, you need to inquire with your agency to learn the geographical region that constitutes your “official duty station,” and you will then be able to determine whether your official travel qualifies you for a per diem.

Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw, Bransford & Roth, PC.

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About Author

Debra Roth

Debra L. Roth is a partner at the law firm Shaw Bransford & Roth, a federal employment law firm in Washington, D.C. She is general counsel to the Senior Executives Association and the Federal Managers Association, host of the “FEDtalk” program on Federal News Radio, and a regular contributor to Federal News Radio’s “Federal Drive” morning show. Email your legal questions to lawyer@federaltimes.com.

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