Ask The Lawyer

By Debra Roth

Q & A Session – Normal Commute Time Deducted from Travel Comp Time

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Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.

Q:

Is the deduction of normal commute time supposed to be deducted from compensatory time whether the travel is on a normal duty day or not?

A:

Yes, your normal home-to-work and work-to-home commuting time will always be subtracted from the amount of compensatory time you receive for official travel to/from your home to a temporary duty station.  5 C.F.R. § 1504(c).

Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw, Bransford & Roth, PC.

Disclaimer: Ask a Lawyer publishes information on this website for informational purposes only. Information on this website is intended – but not promised, guaranteed, or warranted – to reflect correct, complete and current developments. In addition, the contents of the website do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the attorney. Information from this website is not intended to be used as a substitute for specific legal advice, nor should you consider it as such. You should not act, or refrain from acting, based on information on this website without seeking specific legal advice about your particular circumstances. No attorney-client relationship between you and Ask a Lawyer’s author is created by the transmission of information to or from this site.

 

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Q & A Session – TDY and Travel Time

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Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.

Q:

When an employee is in TDY status, should the employee be paid for the travel time he or she in a government vehicle if it is outside of normal working hours? If an employee has a start time of 6:00 a.m. are they required to report to the vessel at 6 a.m. or start travel to the vessel at 6 a.m.?

A:

As addressed in our article “TDY and Comp. Time: What Are the Rules?” a federal employee is entitled to compensatory time for travel beyond their official duty station, occurring outside their normal duty hours.

For purposes of compensatory time, an employee’s official duty station is a reasonable geographic area surrounding the work site, as designated by the agency, but not to exceed a mileage radius of 50 miles.  As such, just because you are on a “TDY,” or temporary detail assignment, does not necessarily mean that you are on a travel status away from your official duty station.  If you are not beyond your official duty station, then you are not entitled to compensatory time for travel.

Regarding your second question, since your tour of duty begins at 6:00am, you are required to be at the work site at 6:00am, but may be entitled to compensatory time for your travel to/from the worksite, depending whether or not you are in a travel status. For more a more detailed explanation, please see our article titled, “TDY and Comp. Time: What Are the Rules?” for more information regarding your question.

Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw, Bransford & Roth, PC.

Disclaimer: Ask a Lawyer publishes information on this website for informational purposes only. Information on this website is intended – but not promised, guaranteed, or warranted – to reflect correct, complete and current developments. In addition, the contents of the website do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the attorney. Information from this website is not intended to be used as a substitute for specific legal advice, nor should you consider it as such. You should not act, or refrain from acting, based on information on this website without seeking specific legal advice about your particular circumstances. No attorney-client relationship between you and Ask a Lawyer’s author is created by the transmission of information to or from this site.

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Q & A Session – Compensatory Time Off

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Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.

Q:

Is an employee entitled to compensatory time for hours worked above the normal tour of duty of eight hours after arriving at a TDY site?

A:

An employee on a TDY is only entitled to compensatory time off “for time in a travel status away from the employee’s official duty station when the travel time is not otherwise compensable.”  5 C.F.R. § 55.1401 (emphasis added); see 5 C.F.R. § 550.1403 (“Compensable refers to periods of time that are credible as hours of work for the purpose of determining a specific pay entitlement, even when that work time may not actually generate additional compensation because of applicable pay limitations”).  Thus, if you are working more hours than regular tour of duty, as your question suggests, you will be entitled to compensatory time off for your travel to/from your work station.  Additionally, you will also be entitled to compensatory time off for any time beyond your normal 8-hour tour of duty spent working at the temporary duty station.  See 5 U.S.C. § 5542 and 5 C.F.R. § 550.113 (FLSA-exempt employees); 29 U.S.C. § 207(e)(7) and 5 C.F.R. § 551.531 (FLSA-nonexempt employees).

Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw, Bransford & Roth, PC.

Disclaimer: Ask a Lawyer publishes information on this website for informational purposes only. Information on this website is intended – but not promised, guaranteed, or warranted – to reflect correct, complete and current developments. In addition, the contents of the website do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the attorney. Information from this website is not intended to be used as a substitute for specific legal advice, nor should you consider it as such. You should not act, or refrain from acting, based on information on this website without seeking specific legal advice about your particular circumstances. No attorney-client relationship between you and Ask a Lawyer’s author is created by the transmission of information to or from this site.

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Q & A Session – Family Separation Allowance Entitlement

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Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.

Q:

I am a civilian employee and am required to attend mandatory training for three months at a location far away from my home. My meals, lodging and travel expenses are covered. Am I entitled to Family Separation Allowance or any other compensation for TDY?

A:

No.  Family Separation Allowance is not available for civilian employees; rather, Family Separation Allowance is only payable to active-duty service members with dependents away from their permanent duty station for more than 30 consecutive days.

Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw, Bransford & Roth, PC.

Disclaimer: Ask a Lawyer publishes information on this website for informational purposes only. Information on this website is intended – but not promised, guaranteed, or warranted – to reflect correct, complete and current developments. In addition, the contents of the website do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the attorney. Information from this website is not intended to be used as a substitute for specific legal advice, nor should you consider it as such. You should not act, or refrain from acting, based on information on this website without seeking specific legal advice about your particular circumstances. No attorney-client relationship between you and Ask a Lawyer’s author is created by the transmission of information to or from this site.

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Q & A Session – Overtime While On Travel Status

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Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.

Q:

What is the rule for paying overtime to an employee while on travel status?

A:

Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 5542(b)(2) and 5 C.F.R. § 550.112(g), official travel away from one’s duty station is considered hours of work, including overtime hours when applicable, if: the travel occurs within the regularly scheduled work week; or the travel includes the performance of work while traveling, is incident to travel that involves the performance of work while traveling, is carried out under arduous or dangerous conditions, or results from an event that could not be scheduled or controlled administratively by any individual or agency in the Government.  If time while on travel status does not meet one of the above to qualify as hours of work or overtime, then it may be credited to compensatory time.  An employee on a TDY is entitled to compensatory time off “for time in a travel status away from the employee’s official duty station when the travel time is not otherwise compensable.”  5 C.F.R. § 55.1401 (emphasis added); see 5 C.F.R. § 550.1403 (“Compensable refers to periods of time that are creditable as hours of work for the purpose of determining a specific pay entitlement, even when that work time may not actually generate additional compensation because of applicable pay limitations”).

Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw, Bransford & Roth, PC.

Disclaimer: Ask a Lawyer publishes information on this website for informational purposes only. Information on this website is intended – but not promised, guaranteed, or warranted – to reflect correct, complete and current developments. In addition, the contents of the website do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the attorney. Information from this website is not intended to be used as a substitute for specific legal advice, nor should you consider it as such. You should not act, or refrain from acting, based on information on this website without seeking specific legal advice about your particular circumstances. No attorney-client relationship between you and Ask a Lawyer’s author is created by the transmission of information to or from this site.

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Q&A Session – Work Travel Time and TDY

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Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.

Q:

Sometimes I am required to travel outside my normal duty hours to perform work at different base that may require the travel to start at 4:30 AM and return to my place of duty after 5PM. This isn’t on TDY but must be done in order to meet the contractors at the site they are working so I can provide COR over site. I have been told that all travel outside my normal duty day must be claimed as travel comp time and I can’t claim comp time earned because the work was done away from my regular office. As I understand the regulations on travel comp it is to be claimed when on official travel to a temporary duty station or waiting for a connecting flight. This appears to me as a TDY duty not within the normal work day. I think I should be able to claim comp time earned or overtime depending on if I am covered under FLSA or not. Is this correct?

A:

Per the Federal Workforce Flexibility Act of 2004 (the “Act”), federal employees, when traveling away from their official duty station, may be entitled to compensatory time off for travel outside of regular working hours between an employee’s home and a temporary duty station outside the limits of an employee’s official duty station.  See 5 U.S.C. § 5550b; see also 5 C.F.R. § 550.1404(c).  In order for your travel to qualify as a TDY (and for you to gain compensatory time for travel to/from a temporary duty station), one must travel outside their “official duty station.”  Your “official duty station,” however, is not limited to just your actual work site.  Instead, one’s “official duty station” is a reasonable geographic area surrounding the work site, as designated by the Agency.  5 C.F.R. § 550.1403.  When designating the geographic area surrounding an employee’s regular work site that shall constitute an employee’s “official duty station,” the agency “may prescribe a mileage radius of not greater than 50 miles to determine whether an employee’s travel is within or outside the limits of the employee’s official duty station for determining entitlement to overtime pay for travel.”  5 C.F.R. § 550.112(j).  As such, the Agency is authorized to determine, in its discretion, the geographic region that shall consist of an employee’s official duty station, so long as that geographic region does not exceed a 50 mile radius of the location of the employee’s permanent duty station.  Thus, for your travel to qualify as a TDY, you must travel beyond the geographical area designated as your “official duty station.” 

An employee on a TDY is only entitled to compensatory time off “for time in a travel status away from the employee’s official duty station when the travel time is not otherwise compensable.”  5 C.F.R. § 55.1401 (emphasis added); see 5 C.F.R. § 550.1403 (“Compensable refers to periods of time that are credible as hours of work for the purpose of determining a specific pay entitlement, even when that work time may not actually generate additional compensation because of applicable pay limitations”).  In your case, your travel may be compensable. Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 5542(b)(2) and 5 C.F.R. § 550.112(g), official travel away from one’s duty station is considered hours of work, if: the travel occurs within the regularly scheduled work week; or if the travel includes the performance of work while traveling, is incident to travel that involves the performance of work while traveling, is carried out under arduous or dangerous conditions, or results from an event that could not be scheduled or controlled administratively by any individual or agency in the Government.  Based on the limited facts you provided, it is possible that your travel may be compensable as hour of work, as your travel to other bases to meet with contractors may qualify as travel that “results from an event which could not be scheduled or controlled administratively [by the Government].”  5 C.F.R. § 550.112(g)(2)(iv).

Disclaimer: Ask a Lawyer publishes information on this website for informational purposes only. Information on this website is intended – but not promised, guaranteed, or warranted – to reflect correct, complete and current developments. In addition, the contents of the website do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the attorney. Information from this website is not intended to be used as a substitute for specific legal advice, nor should you consider it as such. You should not act, or refrain from acting, based on information on this website without seeking specific legal advice about your particular circumstances. No attorney-client relationship between you and Ask a Lawyer’s author is created by the transmission of information to or from this site.

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Q&A Session – International TDY

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Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.

Q:

If I am on TDY in Japan and already have overtime hours on the current pay period, can I travel to other countries on my own expense during the same pay period?

A:

Although I cannot determine all the facts from your question, I assume that you are asking if you can take leave for personal travel once you have completed your requisite number of hours while on an international TDY.  There are no specific rules or regulations that expressly permit or prohibit you from travelling during your free time while on a TDY.  I advise you to submit your leave request through the regular agency procedures.  Of course, approving or denying your leave is discretionary with your agency.  For example, if you have a 10-day TDY in Japan, it might not be unreasonable for your agency to deny your request for 3-days of leave for you to vacation around Asia, especially if your presence is needed elsewhere.  If you are on a lengthy TDY in Japan, it is most likely reasonable for you to receive approval for a couple of days of leave during a pay period in which you have already completed your requisite hours of work.  Ultimately, the circumstances of your TDY and the nature of your request will dictate whether it is in the best interest of your agency. 

Disclaimer: Ask a Lawyer publishes information on this website for informational purposes only. Information on this website is intended – but not promised, guaranteed, or warranted – to reflect correct, complete and current developments. In addition, the contents of the website do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the attorney. Information from this website is not intended to be used as a substitute for specific legal advice, nor should you consider it as such. You should not act, or refrain from acting, based on information on this website without seeking specific legal advice about your particular circumstances. No attorney-client relationship between you and Ask a Lawyer’s author is created by the transmission of information to or from this site.

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Q&A Session – TDY for Travel Outside “Official Duty Station”

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Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.

Q:

If I have to work a half day or more at locations that are 60 miles or greater from my normal place of work, can I be authorized for TDY?

A:

In order for your visits to other locations throughout the city to qualify as a TDY (and for you to gain compensatory time for travel to/from a temporary duty station), one must travel outside their “official duty station.”  Your “official duty station,” however, is not limited to just your work site.  Instead, one’s “official duty station” is a reasonable geographic area surrounding the work site, as designated by the Agency.  5 C.F.R. § 550.1403.  When designating the geographic area surrounding an employee’s regular work site that shall constitute an employee’s “official duty station,” the agency “may prescribe a mileage radius of not greater than 50 miles to determine whether an employee’s travel is within or outside the limits of the employee’s official duty station for determining entitlement to overtime pay for travel.”  5 C.F.R. § 550.112(j).  As such, the Agency is authorized to determine, in its discretion, the geographic region that shall consist of an employee’s official duty station, so long as that geographic region does not exceed a 50 mile radius of the location of the employee’s permanent duty station.  Therefore, in order for your single-day drives to other locations in the city to qualify as a temporary duty assignment, you must travel beyond your “official duty station.”  Because your “official duty station” cannot exceed a 50 mile radius of the location of your normal work station, your trips that are “60 miles or greater” should qualify as a TDY, and warrant compensatory travel time for you.

Disclaimer: Ask a Lawyer publishes information on this website for informational purposes only. Information on this website is intended – but not promised, guaranteed, or warranted – to reflect correct, complete and current developments. In addition, the contents of the website do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the attorney. Information from this website is not intended to be used as a substitute for specific legal advice, nor should you consider it as such. You should not act, or refrain from acting, based on information on this website without seeking specific legal advice about your particular circumstances. No attorney-client relationship between you and Ask a Lawyer’s author is created by the transmission of information to or from this site.

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Q&A Session – Travel Reimbursement for Airline Miles

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Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.

Q:

I recently filed a travel voucher with my agency following my return from leave and temporary duty. I purchased airline miles with my credit card and applied the miles toward my airfare. I used the airfare for my leave, but stopped at a TDY location on the way home. I was told that GAO doesn’t recognize airline miles and would not reimburse my ticket to the TDY location. Is this correct?

A:

Even though you paid with your personal credit card for the miles utilized to obtain your airfare that was ultimately used for official travel, you unfortunately are not entitled to reimbursement.  As you indicated, federal employees are eligible for payment of travel expenses, such as air fare, when performing official travel.  41 C.F.R. § 301-10.1-10.2.  It appears that your trip would qualify as “official travel,” thus warranting reimbursement of your air fare.  However, as the Agency advised you, you are not entitled to reimbursement for the miles used to obtain the airfare, or for reimbursement of the credit card payment maid to purchase the miles.  Such payment is prohibited by the Federal Regulations.  Generally, travel expenses should be paid with an employee’s government-issued travel card, unless you have an exemption.  41 C.F.R. § 301-51.1.  If you receive an exemption, you may pay for transportation expenses with cash, personal credit cards, personal check, or travelers check.  41 § 301-51-101.  Because you did not pay for the airfare with cash or a cash equivalent, you are not eligible for reimbursement, and it is immaterial that you did pay for the miles with a cash equivalent. 

Disclaimer: Ask a Lawyer publishes information on this website for informational purposes only. Information on this website is intended – but not promised, guaranteed, or warranted – to reflect correct, complete and current developments. In addition, the contents of the website do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the attorney. Information from this website is not intended to be used as a substitute for specific legal advice, nor should you consider it as such. You should not act, or refrain from acting, based on information on this website without seeking specific legal advice about your particular circumstances. No attorney-client relationship between you and Ask a Lawyer’s author is created by the transmission of information to or from this site.

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Q&A Session: Duty Hours During TDY Travel Day

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Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.

Q:

Our supervisor wants us to account for all hours on a TDY travel day. If the work/hours do not account for 8 hours, we’re supposed to take leave or go into the office. To accommodate people at a TDY site, we usually start work later than our normal duty hours. Our supervisor also wants us to add up all the hours we work and travel in the day and anything over 8 hours is Travel Comp time. He said that we have to take leave for the early morning hours before we start work.

A:

Per the Federal Workforce Flexibility Act of 2004 (the “Act”), federal employees, when traveling away from their official duty station, may be entitled to compensatory time off for travel outside of regular working hours between an employee’s home and a temporary duty station outside the limits of an employee’s official duty station.  See 5 U.S.C. § 5550b; see also 5 C.F.R. § 550.1404(c).  However, an employee is only entitled to compensatory time off “for time in a travel status away from the employee’s official duty station when the travel time is not otherwise compensable.”  5 C.F.R. § 55.1401 (emphasis added); see 5 C.F.R. § 550.1403 (“Compensable refers to periods of time that are credible as hours of work for the purpose of determining a specific pay entitlement, even when that work time may not actually generate additional compensation because of applicable pay limitations”).  Because your tour of duty at the temporary duty station begins later than your normally scheduled tour of duty, while presumably still ending at your usually scheduled time, your travel time occurs during the hours of your normal tour of duty, or during “compensable time.”  Because the Act only provides compensatory time of for travel time that “is not otherwise compensable,” or time greater than your regularly scheduled, 8-hour tour of duty, your supervisor appears to be correctly applying the OPM regulations. 

 

Disclaimer: Ask a Lawyer publishes information on this website for informational purposes only. Information on this website is intended – but not promised, guaranteed, or warranted – to reflect correct, complete and current developments. In addition, the contents of the website do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the attorney. Information from this website is not intended to be used as a substitute for specific legal advice, nor should you consider it as such. You should not act, or refrain from acting, based on information on this website without seeking specific legal advice about your particular circumstances. No attorney-client relationship between you and Ask a Lawyer’s author is created by the transmission of information to or from this site.

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