After years of lobbying by our union and other worker allies, Congress has reversed a three-year-old policy that resulted in out-of-pocket losses to military service members and Defense civilian workers who travel long-term for work.
Section 603 of the fiscal 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which has passed the House and Senate and is awaiting President Trump’s signature, overturns a 2014 Department of Defense policy that reduced per diem reimbursements for military and civilian workers who travel longer than 30 days at a time for work.
“Being away from home for months at a time is hard enough without forcing employees to pay out-of-pocket for legitimate travel expenses that should be covered by their employer,” said Don Hale, chairman of AFGE’s Defense Conference (DEFCON), which oversees the nearly 300,000 DoD civilians represented by AFGE worldwide.
“This was a misguided attempt by the Pentagon to find cost savings at the expense of employees – mostly mid-level civilian employees outside of D.C. who frequently travel for work. We thank Congress for doing the right thing and reversing these harmful and unfair cuts,” Hale added.
AFGE especially thanks the lawmakers whose legislation to repeal the per diem policy was folded into the final NDAA: Reps. Derek Kilmer of Washington and Walter Jones of North Carolina, and Sens. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii and Mike Rounds of South Dakota.
The policy, which went into effect in November 2014, cut the per diem allowance for DoD employees required to travel for work between 30 and 180 days down to 75% of the nationally established per diem rates for travel. For employees on work travel longer than 180 days, the per diem reimbursement rate was reduced to 55%.
“For nearly three years, DoD has been shortchanging our service members and civilian employees by taking money out of their pockets for legitimate travel expenses that the agency should have been covering,” AFGE President J. David Cox Sr. said. “Our members fought hard to overturn this policy, and this victory shows what we can accomplish when we fight for what’s right and never give up.”