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.
I thought that the same official duty station would be used for both travel comp and local travel reimbursement, but I am confused. Is it true that I would never earn travel comp for time spent in the county designated as the “official duty station?” How does designation of the county as the official duty station impact my entitlement to reimbursement for local travel? Specifically, would I be entitled to local travel reimbursement for trips from my residence to locations within the county designated as my official duty station? And can the employing agency make the permanent duty station the “official duty station” as well, making the entitlement to local travel and comp travel the same and, if this is the case, why shouldn’t agencies be required to do this for equity?
Travel compensatory time is travel time that is not otherwise compensable hours of work spent while on an official travel away from the duty station. See 5 C.F.R. § 550.1404(a). For example, an employee is entitled to travel compensatory time for time spent in travel status, beyond their normal duty hours. Travel reimbursement, on the other hand, is financial reimbursement for travel expenses accrued by the employee while on a travel status. See 41 C.F.R. 301-1.3. To qualify for either travel compensatory time, or reimbursement of travel expense, one must be in an official travel status. An employee is in a travel status when travelling outside their official duty station, as designated by the agency. 5 C.F.R. § 550.1404(a)(1). Just because an employee does not report to his typical place of work, an employee may nonetheless remain within his/her official duty station, and thus not be in a travel status. Indeed, so long as an employee remains within his/her official duty station, as defined by 5 C.F.R. § 550.1403, that employee is not entitled to either travel compensatory time or travel reimbursement. Accordingly, there is no such thing as “local travel,” as an employee is either in a travel status or not. (For more on travel compensatory time, see our previous column, “TDY and Comp. Time: What Are the Rules?”).
Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw, Bransford & Roth, PC.
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