California Department of Transportation
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Clark Paulsen, Division Chief

Key Definitions

References: California Code of Regulations, Administrative Code, Title 2 Sections 599.616 and 599.616 (1), Collective Bargaining Agreements, and State Administrative Manual (SAM) 0710.


For the purposes of this guide, the following definitions will apply:


Headquarters shall be established by the appointing power for each state officer and employee and shall be defined as the place where the officer or employee spends the largest portion of his or her regular workdays or working time, or the place to which he or she returns upon completion of special assignments, or as the California Department of Human Resources (CalHR) may define in special situations.

Where an office building or similar definite place constitutes the employee's headquarters, no per diem expenses shall be allowed at any location within 50 miles of said headquarters as determined by the normal commute distance.

Where the major portion of an employee's working time is spent within a specifically assigned or limited geographical area, such as an assignment area where the same routes are traveled frequently and routinely on one-day trips, no per diem expenses shall be allowed at any location within 50 miles from any point in this assigned area as determined by the normal commute distance.

However, in order to insure equity in special cases, agency heads may disregard this and authorize individual claims.

In cases where adherence to the 50-mile limitation creates an unusual and unavoidable hardship to the officer or employee, exceptions may be granted. For more information, seeTravel Exceptions to the 50-Mile Limit.

Primary Residence

A place of primary dwelling shall be designated for each state officer and employee. A primary dwelling shall be defined as the actual dwelling place of the employee, which bears the most logical relationship to the employee's headquarters and shall be determined without regard to any other legal or mailing address. However, if an employee is temporarily required to dwell away from his or her primary dwelling place due to official travel away from headquarters, and said primary dwelling is either inhabited by his or her dependents or is maintained by the employee at a net monthly expense in excess of $200, such dwelling place may be continued as the employee's designated primary dwelling.

No reimbursement for per diem or other per diem expenses shall be allowed on the premises of an employee's primary dwelling.

An employee shall have only one dwelling at which travel expenses are prohibited.

When an employee maintains more than one dwelling, meeting the definition of residence set forth in this section, and the employee is required to officially travel to the location of the secondary dwelling, he or she may claim reimbursement for actual expenses incurred for meals and incidentals in accordance with the rates and timeframe for short-term travel.

For more information on meals and incidentals, see Chapter 3, Meal and Incidental Rates and Requirements.

Travel Expenses

Travel expenses include:

Meals, lodging, and incidental expenses incurred as a result of business travel away from headquarters in order to conduct State business. The term "incidental expenses" means fees and tips given to porters, baggage carriers, hotel staff, and staff on ships. It does not include taxicab fares, lodging taxes, or the cost of telegrams, faxes, or telephone calls. For more information, see Chapter 3, Reimbursement Allowances<>.

Transportation expenses incurred in order to conduct State business. For more information, see Chapter 11<>.

Business Expenses

Business expenses consist of charges for business phone calls, faxes, and telegrams; emergency clothing, equipment, or supply purchases that are job related; and other charges necessary to the completion of official business while on travel status. Any emergency purchase shall be explained on the travel expense claim, and if over $25, must be approved by the department head, deputy, or chief administrative officer.

For more information, see Chapter 3, Business Expenses and Chapter 9, Miscellaneous Expenses(Non-Travel Related Materials and Services).

Long-Term Assignment

A long-term assignment (LTA) is any assignment of 31 days or more to a given location other than headquarters. An LTA is typically for a project status job that requires the extended presence of an employee for a period in excess of 31 days, but is not considered permanent due to the temporary nature of the assignment, the appointment, or scheduled completion date of the project. An employee returning home for weekends or incidental short-term travel to another location does not break the continuity of a long-term assignment.

For more information, see Chapter 3, Long- Term Assignments.

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