For business travelers, good and reliable hotels in a convenient location are extremely important. But in certain areas, finding those can be tricky, and when you find one, it often comes with a higher price tag. If you travel for work, that shouldn’t be a problem as your employer foots the bill and gives you a per diem for expenses incurred while on the road – laundry, meals, transportations, etc. This is especially important for people who are on assignment for months at a time.
If you work for the Defense Department, though, you’re out of luck.
Under DoD's policy, employees required to travel for work between 30 and 180 days see their per diem allowance cut down to 75 percent of the nationally established per diem rates for travel. Per diem allowance for those required to travel for work more than 180 days is cut down to 55%. This policy unfairly results in employees having to pay out of their own pockets for valid expenses.
That’s why AFGE has been raising awareness on Capitol Hill on this particular issue. We are encouraged that Representatives Derek Kilmer of Washington and Walter Jones of North Carolina, and their Senate colleagues, Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono and South Dakota Senator Mike Rounds recently introduced H.R. 2036 and S. 901 to correct this rule. These members of Congress understand the plight of men and women in uniform and those who work alongside them as civilians.
"The DoD's per diem policy has been shortchanging our service members and civil servants for 2.5 years now," said Congressman Jones. "Currently, military members and civilian employees are not fully reimbursed for temporary assignments lasting over 30 days. H.R. 2036 will right this injustice and prohibit any reduction in per diem allowance based on the duration of duty or travel."
“Those who serve and the civilian workers who support them shouldn’t have to bear a financial burden when they travel in support of military missions," said Congressman Kilmer. "It’s not right to nickel-and-dime these folks or undermine their ability to get decent lodging. Our bipartisan legislation would ensure that we can lighten the load on these men and women operating on behalf of our nation’s security.”
Senator Hirono said, “Military members and Department of Defense civilians should not have to worry about potential financial burdens and red tape related to travel away from home. This commonsense legislation will continue to allow Department of Defense employees in Hawaii and around the world to do their jobs without jumping through unnecessary hoops.”
“Our service members and their families make incredible sacrifices to keep us safe. They shouldn’t be faced with unnecessary stress or financial burdens when a service member is on a temporary assignment that could last for months,” said Senator Rounds. “It is but one small step we can take to improve the quality of life for the men and women who are selflessly defending our country.”