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 work for a federal research agency. My primary duties include measuring environmental conditions in remote locations. On any given day, I am required to travel on short notice to field sites up to 100 miles from my official duty station, collect measurements, and return to the office.
Since this is a routine duty, my supervisors do not ask for, or require me to, fill out a request for travel, even though I exceed the 50 mile radius in a government vehicle and on government time. What are the legal implications of leaving my duty station without written travel authorization? Can a supervisor grant verbal, blanket authorization? What happens if I am in a car accident while performing official duties beyond the 50-mile boundary without written travel authorization?
When a federal employee is performing his or her job duties during normal duty hours, it is immaterial where that employee is geographically located. Moreover, if an employee’s normal job duties require that he or she to various locations in a government-owned vehicle to perform those duties, no travel authorization is required.
Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw Bransford & Roth PC.
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