California Department of Transportation
 
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Clark Paulsen, Division Chief

Short-Term Travel
Meal and Incidental Rates and Requirements

References: California Code of Regulations, Administrative Code, Title 2 599.619, 599.621, and 599.633, CalHR PML 2013-022, CalHR PML 2013-026, CalHR PML 2013-034, and Bargaining Unit Contracts.

Introduction

Employees on short-term travel status shall be reimbursed for actual meal and incidental expenses up to the maximum rates provided in this section unless directed to travel under the provisions of CCR Administrative Code (Title 2)599.624 or 599.624.1 - Contracting for Subsistence.

Short-term travel status is defined as travel a minimum of 50 miles away from the employee's designated headquarters and primary residence, and lasting no more than 30 calendar days in a "single location". A single location is defined as a major metropolitan area, cities in vicinity to one another, and any locations that straddle county or state lines within a 50-mile radius.

The short-term rate will be discontinued after the 30th consecutive day assigned to a single location unless an extension has been previously documented and approved by the appointing power. For additional information, see Chapter 6 Travel Exceptions, Short-Term Subsistence Beyond 30 Days.

Reimbursement for short-term meals will be authorized only when the traveler incurs expenses arising from the use of reasonable, moderately priced meal establishments such as restaurants, cafes and diners, etc. that cater to the general public.

Meals provided by the state when included in hotel expenses or conference fees, in transportation costs such as airline tickets, or otherwise provided shall not be claimed for reimbursement. Snacks and continental breakfasts such as rolls, juice and coffee are not considered to be meals.

No meal expense may be claimed or reimbursed more than once on any given date or during any 24-hour period. The circumstances of travel will determine the rate allowed.

Staying with Friends and Relatives

Employees who stay with friends or relatives may claim their actual meal and incidental expenses in accordance with the rates and timeframe outlined in this section.

Vacation, CTO, or Sick Leave

Meal and incidental expenses will not be allowed when an employee is authorized vacation or compensating time off (CTO) while on travel status.

If an employee is granted sick leave while traveling on state business, he or she may be authorized to claim reimbursement for travel expenses, up to a maximum of three days. For information on exceeding the three days, see Chapter 6 Travel Exceptions, Subsistence While on Sick Leave.

Meal and Incidental Reimbursement Rates

Reimbursement will be made for actual expenses up to the maximum amounts allowed. The employee must maintain receipts for meal and incidental expenses to substantiate the amounts claimed were not in excess of the actual expenses. Receipts for meals are not required to accompany the travel expense claim; however, the Department has authority to request this information if further substantiation is warranted.

Effective July 1, 2013, the California Department of Human Resources (CalHR) issued Personnel Management Letter (PML) 2013-022 announcing increased Per Diem reimbursement rates for official State travel for SEIU Bargaining Units (BU) 1, 3, 4, 11, 14, 15, 17, 20, and 21), PECG Bargaining Unit 9, and all Non-Represented (Excluded/Exempt employees).

Effective September 1, 2013, CalHR issued PML 2013-026 announcing a minor change in the increased Per Diem Rates.

For each full 24-hour period of travel, represented employees in BU 1, 3, 4, 9, 11, 12, 14, 15, 17, 20, 21 all Non-Represented (Excluded/Exempt) employees may claim:

Rates effective July 1, 2013 August 31, 2013:

Breakfast Actual expense up to $8.00.
Lunch Actual expense up to $12.00.
Dinner Actual expense up to $20.00.
Incidentals Actual expense up to $6.00.

Rates effective September 1, 2013:

Breakfast Actual expense up to $7.00.
Lunch Actual expense up to $11.00.
Dinner Actual expense up to $23.00.
Incidentals Actual expense up to $5.00.

Effective October 1, 2013, the California Department of Human Resources (CalHR) issued Personnel Management Letter (PML) 2013-034 announcing increased Per Diem reimbursement rates for official State travel for Bargaining Unit 12 employees.

Rates effective October 1, 2013:

Breakfast Actual expense up to $7.00.
Lunch Actual expense up to $11.00.
Dinner Actual expense up to $23.00.
Incidentals Actual expense up to $5.00.

Employees not represented by SEIU, PECG, and, IOUE (BU 12) will continue to use the rates found in their current contract as follows until further notice.

All Other Bargaining Units:

Breakfast Actual expense up to $6.00.
Lunch Actual expense up to $10.00.
Dinner Actual expense up to $18.00.
Incidentals Actual expense up to $6.00.

Departure and Return Time Requirements

In computing reimbursement for continuous short-term travel of 24 hours or more and less than 31 consecutive days, the employee will be reimbursed for actual meal and incidental costs up to the maximums allowed for each meal and incidental expense for each complete 24 hours of travel, beginning with the traveler's times of departure and return as indicated below:

On the first day of travel on a trip of 24 hours or more:

Trip begins at or before 6:00 a.m. Breakfast may be claimed on the first day.
Trip begins at or before 11:00 a.m. Lunch may be claimed on the first day.
Trip begins at or before 5:00 p.m. Dinner may be claimed on the first day.

 

On the fractional day of travel at the end of a trip of more than 24 hours:

Trip ends at or after 8:00 a.m. Breakfast may be claimed.
Trip ends at or after 2:00 p.m. Lunch may be claimed.
Trip ends at or after 7:00 p.m. Dinner may be claimed.

 

Travel Less Than 24 Hours

Employees may not claim lunch or incidentals for one-day trips. When trips are less than 24 hours with no overnight stay, meals are reportable and taxable income.
For more information, see Tax Reporting and Withholding Requirements.

For continuous travel of less than 24 hours, employees may claim actual expenses for breakfast and/or dinner in accordance with the following time frames:

Trip begins at or before 6:00 am AND ends at or after 9:00 am Breakfast may be claimed.
Trip begins at or before 4:00 p.m. AND ends at or after 7:00 p.m. Dinner may be claimed.

 

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