Ah great, the morality police come to work.

I work for small County government. Like most companies, we get per-diem pay when we are out of town on business. Be it training or a convention or whatever.

In the past, it was easy. Just make a request for X amount of days and you got a check for X amount of dollars to use as you see fit. It’s really just designed to cover meals. It’s even broken out for how much they figure for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But it’s understood that you can use it for whatever you want. It’s your money. You go over, and you have to pay for it personally. I would just deposit or cash the check, get any additional funds I might need and that was that. Simple.

Hotel and travel expenses are completely separate.

Things are going to change. Supposedly to make it easier :dubious:

Each employee will get a credit card to charge his or her per-diem on. And then, you will need to fill out an expense report and provide receipts. You are still limited to what you can spend on your per-diem, and it’s still only enough to cover meals, but now you have to justify EATING.

[sarcasm on]Oooooookay. That’s lots easier, nothing like a boat load of unnecessary paperwork to lighten the load[/so] And now there are 500 or so additional credit cards that are floating around that people are just as likely to loose than use.

Oh yeah. The morality part?

No alcohol. Not even a beer with dinner. You need to put it on a separate check :rolleyes:. Just so happens that the ‘big guy’ is a teetotaler.

I don’t really see the problem with that. Most companies operate that way and in government I’d expect that sort of accountability. Also, while I have no problem with drinking (I’d be a huge hypocrite if I said I did) I wouldn’t, as a taxpayer, want to be funding someone else drinking while on government business.

I wouldn’t call this “morality police”. I’d call it sensible business. They aren’t saying you can’t drink alcohol, they’re just saying they won’t pay for it. I wouldn’t either.

So, despite the obivous savings, you’ll be passing on the $5 Filet Mignon at the strip club from now on?

While agree that on the face of it an employer wouldn’t pay for employee’s alcohol, I think enipla has a point. Originally she(?) would receive, say $20 per diem. If she had a Big Mac and that’s it, while a co-worker had a steak, the employer pays the same expense amount. Either could have a beer, or in fact not eat at all. The employer is uninvolved in any of these decisions.

Now, though, enipla could have a salad and glass of wine, and co-worker could have a steak. Employer pays more for the co-worker, but has a problem with enipla’s expense?

Is the employer justified in saying “enipla’s choice of salad is morally superior to the cow-killing co-work?”


Still seems like a giant waste of time and effort to me. People are just going to be more likely to eat as close to the top of the budget, or go over it. I doubt it’s going to save any money. Not considering all the accounting that has to go with it.

And I really don’t see the big deal using per-diem funds to pay for a beer when you’re off the clock.

I’m going to feel quite strange asking for a separate check for my beer.

I’m also not sure about it being the moraity police. I think it’s the complexity police. It sounds like you had a pretty elegant system going there, and someone in the government realized that they dcouldn’t have that. They complicated it a good deal, and brought it before the Big Guy. He looked at it and said, “Fine, but I think we could complicate this just a little bit more.”

It kinda sounds like what goes on with a normal expense account. At my last job this was pretty much how it worked (though for those that got expense accounts it was also to cover any business-related outside functions). You had to keep all of your receipts and then they were audited on a regular basis. No alcohol, no funny business – meals, hotels as required, gas, and any other business-related expenses would be okayed, as well as perhaps other exceptions. However, if they saw alcohol or peeler bars or such on there, you could expect the amounts to be carved out of your salary.

On the rare occasions I travel, my company will cover a glass of wine or a beer with dinner. I have no problem with government employees having it the same way. Obviously, neither my company nor the government should pay for an evening at Big Jane’s House’o’Flesh, but that’s not what’s happening here.

The neo-Puritanism in this country is really getting out of control.

Per Diem rocks. A few jobs back, I had to travel extensivly. You ALWAYS get screwed because even if it were possible to ge a receipt for every friggnen thing, they get lost, etc.

So you know what, I’m having lots of steaks to make up for the money I’ll lose on this trip.

I begged and begged for simple per-diem arraingment. FINALLY after I submitted a weekly expense report with receipts in 5 different currencies (pre-Euros) they relented. It was a great day, that.

And you know what? Since I hate eating by myself in resteraunts, I’ll often pick shit up at the grocery store, maybe even a bottle of (gasp!) wine and I’ll stay in my motel room and work on shit for you mr. big guy. Oh, and (gasp!) I might actually make a few extra bucks to compensate me for all the hassle of traveling to do your shit.

For those of you saying this is reasonable - the employer isn’t paying the employee to drink alcohol. The employer is covering the cost of living expenses for the employee who is being forced to spend non-working time away from their home. If my normal dinner includes a glass of wine or a beer which I purchased at liquor store prices, why should I be forced to pay the much higher restaurant prices for the same item out of pocket when I’m required to undergo the inconvenience of business travel?

Once an employee’s work day is done, what they have for a meal afterwards is their business, not their employer’s. enipla, I say make sure you max out on the allowed amount for meals every day you travel, even if it means buying appetizers and desserts you don’t bother eating - hell, see if you can trade a shrimp cocktail for a beer with the table next to you!

As a taxpayer and former newspaper guy, I want my county government to account for every penny. I don’t mind paying a few extra dollars in taxes for them to do the accounting, but I want it accounted for. I wouldn’t even mind if they let you use the per diem for a drink or two with dinner. But I want it accounted for. I know it’s extra bother for the employees, and that means a little additional expense but … did I mention I want it accounted for? I’m assuming taxpayers in **enipla’s ** county do, too.

My dad ran into this line of thinking with a previous business he worked for. He used to grab some sort of street fare or McD’s, etc while on business, and write out some dollar amount for reimbursal. All reimbursals up to a certain amount were just paid (kinda like a per diem). Then someone decided that any and all reimbursals needed a receipt. So, instead of grabbing a quick, cheap lunch, he had to cost the company much more to go to a sit down restaurant for lunch.

Per diems are the way to go. You assume everyone is going to use them every time. So long as you aren’t being too generous, you’ve avoided needless bookkeeping, and saved enough time and hassel to justify it.

I’m not going to speak to the alcohol issue, but travel credit cards are much easier to deal with than per diem checks.

[li]The employer doesn’t have to worry about an irresponsible employee pissing away a per diem check before lodging and the trip home are paid for.[/li][li]The employee doesn’t have to front personal money for travel expenses and wait for reimbursement.[/li][li]The employer has a detailed listing of charges, sometimes eliminating the need for keeping receipts (easier for the employee), and thus reducing padding.[/li][li]Less chance for screwups with per diem checks.[/li][/ul]

And so forth. So there are benefits to credit cards.

Besides, if you want a drink with dinner, pony up for it yourself.


I would say it encourages padding. If you’re using a credit card, you’ll charge a dinner that is as close to the reimbursement limit as you can get. This puts pressure upward on the cost of meals. Per diem, on the other hand, puts downard pressure on the cost of meals, because you have an interest in spending less.

See that’s the problem. ‘Some dollar amount’ isn’t really a sensible expense policy is it?
And McD’s gives receipts, as does every fast food place. You can buy a chocolate bar and get a receipt if you ask for it.

I don’t think so in this case. All travel arrangements and hotel expenses are paid separately. So if someone pisses away his or her check, the hotel and travel is already paid for.

The per-diem is just to cover the employee’s daily expenses. Actually, it’s more of a here ya go, traveling can be a bitch, at least let us pay for most of your food.

Well, in a sense we did. The per-diem was in no way enough money to go out and party. If you where frugal, you could get by on it sure but I always took extra cash with me.

Yeah. It was quite simple before. Each department would have it’s own CC for purchasing supplies and stuff. If you traveled you just got your some extra bucks a day to cover additional expenses. If you needed more, it came out of your own pocket. Simple and fair to everyone.

The downside is that they force the employee to dine where the card is excepted… No hot dog stands, catering trucks, etc. Seriously, I’ve done a lot of field jobs in the US where that is what was available if you didn’t want to waste an hour and a half driving back into town. And I’ve travelled for work a lot in Europe where such could be really friggen good food.

Taxies usually take credit cards, but it is a royal pain for both the driver and the fare. And Gypsy cabs don’t, so you have to wait for the

Except that’s not what padding is. Padding is getting and submitting a receipt for more than you spent in order to pocket the difference. If you’re spending more (or less) on food with a credit card, then you’re spending more (or less), period.

Kevbo, many expense-account credit cards will allow you to withdraw cash for incidental purchases in areas where credit cards are not accepted. It is more expensive, but it is possible.

Finally, I’m used to military per diem and travel advance, which were supposed to include lodging. I’ve known many, many people (myself included), who screwed themselves because we spent more than the per diem covered. Government credit cards help ensure that doesn’t happen.


Robyn –

I do see that it some circumstances, it would be nice to have a County credit card for unexpected needs. Maybe that’s what’s driving this.

Still, we are going to be limited to the same $45 dollars a day with the credit card. If we go over, we cut a check to finance. Unless it’s something like a lap-top battery for a County computer. Then we would just get reimbursed.

As I said, all travel and lodging expenses are paid for in advance. This is already covered on our departments CC# when the room is reserved.

Previously, if I went to a 5 day training, I would get a $225 check for food/whatever expenses. Plenty in most cases, less in others. I accept that. I have my own CC of course and often extra cash. And nothing has really changed except I have to use a CC and turn in my receipts.

Really though. $45 a day is hardly too much for people traveling, at training or conferences. But now we have to account for it all. And make sure there isn’t a beer on your dinner bill. You gotta pay that back. Doesn’t matter if you’re off the clock 1000 miles from home. It’s silly.

Those people that did the dollar meal at McD’s and pocket the rest will be going to Bennigans and Chilles now. That’s all.

Now, everyone basically has an expense account. Finance will probably need another person just to deal with this, maybe two.

Really, what’s easier? Cutting set rate checks for per-diem as people need them, or managing 500 separate accounts, and all the receipts and expense accounts? Billing people when they go over their per-diem and arguing whether or not something is covered under per-diem.

Stupid, stupid stupid. Give me my $45 a day, I’ll take care of the rest thank you very much.