Clark Paulsen, Division Chief
References: California Code of Regulations, Administration, Title 2, Sections 599.615, 599.615.1, 599.616, 599.616.1, 599.619, 599.621, 599.626 and 599.626.1, Bargaining Unit Contracts, and Payroll Procedure Manual N141.1.2.
A long-term assignment (LTA) is defined as any assignment of 31 days or more in a single location a minimum of 50 miles away from an employee's headquarters and primary residence. A "single location" is defined as including a major metropolitan area, cities in vicinity to one another, and locations that straddle county or state lines. These physical situations do not represent "different" locations.
An employee's return home for weekends or incidental short-term travel to another location does not break the continuity of a long-term assignment. Short breaks in either Temporary or Indefinite Assignments do not automatically create a new assignment. The Internal Revenue Service has ruled that breaks between assignments as long as four to six weeks within a 12 month period do not necessarily terminate a long-term travel Indefinite Assignment for tax purposes. Employers must consider the facts and circumstances to determine the true intent of the assignment.
Short-term per diem may be authorized at the start of the assignment. Short-term per diem is limited to the time required to locate acceptable long-term accommodations or 15 calendar days, whichever is less. With supervisor approval, short-term per diem may be extended up to a maximum of 30 consecutive days.
Employees on long-term assignments are expected to promptly acquire acceptable long-term commercial accommodations. Long-term accommodations are defined as, but are not limited to, apartments, rental homes and rooms, condominiums, and hotels that offer long-term amenities. Costs associated with use of time shares and other privately owned venues are not commercial lodging establishments and will not be reimbursed. In general, these establishments offer monthly rates and may require separate utility payments. Once long-term accommodations have been established, the employee must claim long-term per diem rates as found in this section. If the employee owns the LTA residence, only long-term meals will be reimbursed. The Department may request additional information such as, but not limited to, rental agreements to determine that the secured accommodations are commercial.
Bargaining Units 9 and 11 employees, supervising engineers (S09) and managing engineers (M09) who are assigned in writing to a long-term assignment for more than one year (365 days) at the outset of their assignment and who otherwise qualify for long-term per diem, may qualify for monthly pay differentials in lieu of long-term per diem for meals and receipted lodging. For additional information, see Long-Term Assignment Differential.
Bargaining Unit 9 employees may qualify for personal expense differentials when they incur personal, non-receipted expenses as the result of said travel which are not reimbursed under statutes, regulations, policies or collective bargaining provisions pertaining to business travel and travel expenses. For additional information, see Personal Expense Differential.
Qualifying employees on long-term travel may claim long-term reimbursement by one of the following methods:
An employee on a LTA is required to complete and submit a "Long-Term Assignment Information and Certification of Subsistence Rates", Form FA1350, to his or her LTA supervisor for approval. Once approved, a copy of the form must be submitted to the Travel Policy Section. LTA expenses will not be reimbursed until the Travel Policy Section receives a complete and approved FA1350.
An approved form may be sent to the Division of Accounting by:
- Fax to (916) 227-9357.
- Inter-office mail: Mail Station 25.
- U.S. Mail: PO Box 168018, Sacramento, CA 95816-8018.
When changes are made to an assignment, an employee or an employee's supervisor must submit a revised and approved form, FA1350, to the Division of Accounting's Travel Policy Section. Changes include, but are not limited to, a change in the:
- Assignment date.
- Employee's residence (LTA or primary).
- Geographical location of the assignment.
- Method of reimbursement (short-term, long-term, long-term differential, etc).