No Per Diem

Today TaxMama® hears from Angel in the TaxQuips Forum, with a naive question. “I travel out of the country, on average, 6 months a year. My company handles everything pretty well, but I do have one question. If we take a day off for whatever reason, we lose our per diem for that day. Is this legal as we are still out of the country on business?

We work 6 days a week and are off most Sundays; but we get per diem on Sundays even though we don’t work. Just wanted to get someone else’s opinion as this doesn’t make sense to me.”


Dear Angel,

How your company chooses to pay you is strictly company policy. There is nothing legal or illegal about it.

And if they do the same thing for everyone in your position, it’s not even discriminatory.

I know, it’s not the answer you want.

This is not a tax question. It’s a labor law issue, right?

I bring this up because it’s important to understand the difference between company policy and labor laws. In most states, a company is required to provide break times when you work more than a certain number of hours. Unless there is a union contract, they are not required to provide paid sick leave or vacation, if they don’t want to. Most companies do, because employees expect it and they want to attract employees who stay with them for the long term.
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So, the time to complain, or negotiate for better benefits is when you get hired.
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Or, once you start doing an outstanding job, you can lobby for more perks – for yourself and others in your position.

And remember, you can find answers to all kinds of questions about per diems and other tax and business issues, free. Where? Where else? At

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