Article 12: Travel

Section 1

The Employer will adhere to applicable laws, rules and regulations related to travel.

Section 2

A. For employees who are exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and in accordance with 5 C.F.R. § 550.112(g) and OPM policy guidance "Hours of Work for Travel," time spent in travel status away from an employee's Official Duty Station (ODS) is not hours of duty unless:

1) The time spent is within their regularly scheduled administrative workweek, including regularly scheduled overtime work; or

2) The time spent:

  • involves the performance of actual work while traveling;
  • is incident to travel that involves the performance of work while traveling;
  • is carried out under such arduous and unusual conditions that the travel is inseparable from work; or
  • results from an event which could not be scheduled or controlled administratively, including travel by an employee to such an event and the return of the employee from such an event to their ODS.

B. With respect to FLSA covered (non-exempt) employees, and in accordance with 5 C.F.R § 551.422(a), time spent in travel status away from an employee's ODS shall be considered hours of duty if:

  • an employee is required to travel during regular working hours;
  • an employee is required to drive a vehicle for the actual performance of their work (except as provided in 5 C.F.R. § 551.422(b)) or perform other work while traveling;
  • an employee is required to travel as a passenger on a one-day assignment away from the ODS; or
  • an employee is required to travel as a passenger on an overnight assignment away from the ODS, during hours on non-workdays that correspond to the employee's regular working hours.

C. An employee's commuting time from home to work and vice versa, within their ODS, is never hours of work.

D. The Employer will evaluate employees' travel-related requests such as to travel on a day prior to when attendance is required at a place, away from an employee's official station, where the employee is authorized to travel (TDY) based on staffing, workload, mission  accomplishment, and budgetary considerations.  In cases where the Employer denies an employee's travel related request, the responsible official shall advise the employee of their reasons for such denial.  Upon the request of the employee, the Employer shall furnish a written statement of the reasons for the denial.

E. To the extent practicable and in accordance with laws, rules and regulations, and this Article, the Employer will not direct an employee to remain overnight at a TDY and to travel the next day, if it is not a workday.

F. Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 6101 (b)(2), to the maximum extent practicable, the Employer shall schedule the time to be spent by an employee in travel status away from their ODS within the regularly scheduled workweek of the employee.  Pursuant to 5 C.F.R. § 610.123, when it is essential that an employee be required to travel on non-duty time and the employee is not eligible for overtime pay, the responsible official shall record their reasons for ordering travel at those hours and shall, upon request, furnish a copy of this statement to the employee.

G. While in travel status en route to/from the TDY, an employee may request to earn up to:

  • two (2) credit hours on their normally scheduled workday,
  • six (6) credit hours on a non-workday weekend, or
  • six (6) credit hours on a Federal holiday, if outside the hours corresponding to their hours of work on a regular workday.

As stated in Article 7 of this agreement, an employee may earn or use credit hours while in travel status, subject to supervisory approval in accordance with the procedures of Article 7 (Work Schedules).  The Employer's decision regarding an employee's request will be based solely on whether the employee will perform productive and essential work while using a common/public carrier during the time requested and the Employer can verify the work performed.

Section 3

A. An employee who voluntarily returns home or to their ODS on a non- workday during a TDY assignment will be reimbursed for round-trip transportation and per diem or actual expenses, as appropriate, not to exceed the amount reimbursable had the employee remained at the TDY.  An employee may not be able to obtain the government rate for transportation in these circumstances.

B. An employee on a TDY assignment for more than seventeen (17) consecutive days may be authorized per diem or actual expense and round-trip transportation expense for periodic return travel on non-workdays to the employee's home or ODS. The Employer also may consider approving such reimbursements and expenses for travel on other bases in appropriate circumstances.

Section 4

A. The Employer may authorize a rest period not to exceed twenty-four (24) hours at either an intermediate point or at the employee's destination if:

  • either the employee's origin or destination point is outside the continental United States;
  • the employee's scheduled flight time, including stopovers, exceeds fourteen (14) hours;
  • travel is by a direct or usually traveled route; and
  • travel is by less than premium or first-class service.

B. The employee should request the Employer's approval for the rest stop prior to the commencement of the trip.  The request will not be authorized when an employee, for personal preference or convenience, elects to travel by an indirect route resulting in excess travel time.

C. When a rest stop is authorized, the applicable per diem rate is the rate for the rest stop location.

Section 5

An employee who must leave a TDY assignment prior to its completion because of an incapacitating illness or injury which is not due to the employee's own misconduct is entitled to reimbursement for expenses of transportation to the employee's home, ODS, or regular place of business, as the case may be, and per diem or actual expenses, in accordance with applicable laws, rules and regulations, and this Article.

Section 6

A. The Employer will reimburse an employee for per diem and/or actual and necessary expenses of official travel in accordance with applicable laws, rules and regulations, and this Article.  An employee traveling on official business is expected to exercise the same care in incurring expenses as would a prudent person when traveling on personal business.  Expenses that will be authorized and approved are confined to those actual and necessary to the transaction of official business.

B. An employee is responsible for excess costs and additional expenses incurred for personal preference or convenience.  This includes excess costs and additional expenses incurred when an employee travels on their own time.

Section 7

A. Receipts are required, irrespective of the amount of the expenditure, for all lodging expenses, common carrier transportation tickets, and long-distance telephone calls if the employee has not used a government-issued telephone card.

B. For any authorized expenses costing over seventy-five (75) dollars, an employee must provide a receipt or a reason acceptable to the Employer explaining why the employee is unable to provide the necessary receipt.

C. Consistent with government travel rules and regulations, the Employer will reimburse employees for reasonable personal service tips for baggage and taxicabs.

Section 8

An employee using a government-issued telephone card may make one (1) long-distance personal call of reasonable duration per day.  If an employee does not use a government-issued telephone card for such a call, they will be reimbursed for up to five (5) minutes or less in duration with a maximum reimbursement of five (5) dollars per day.  When on temporary foreign travel, long-distance personal calls will be reimbursed for the first five (5) minutes per day only, or may be averaged for a total of thirty-five (35) minutes per week.

Section 9

A. Common carrier (air, rail, and bus) is considered the most advantageous method to perform official travel, and will be used whenever it is reasonably available.  The Employer may authorize other methods of transportation only when:

  • the use of common carrier would seriously interfere with the performance of official business or impose an undue hardship upon the traveler, or
  • the total cost by common carrier exceeds the cost by another method of transportation.

The Employer's determination that another method of transportation is more advantageous to the government than common carrier will not be made on the basis of personal preference or inconvenience to the traveler.

B. When an automobile is authorized to be used for travel, the employee may elect to use their privately owned vehicle (POV).  An employee will not be directed to furnish a POV for the Employer's convenience.  Reimbursement for use of a POV will be made in accordance with government regulations and current policy and practice.

C. An employee's use of a government-owned, leased, or rental vehicle is subject to applicable laws, rules and regulations.  An employee's use of a government-furnished or government-contract lease or rental vehicle is limited to official business purposes.  Except for reasonable meal trips, use of such vehicles for personal side-trips or errands is prohibited.

Section 10

When consistent with staffing, workload, mission accomplishment, and budgetary considerations, a supervisor may rotate work assignments requiring travel to reduce burdens on affected employees.

Section 11

If travel is expected to require an employee to be absent from their Official Duty Station for three (3) or more consecutive months, the Employer will strive to give the employee at least thirty (30) calendar days’ notice of their departure date.

Section 12

A. For the purposes of computing meals and incidental expenses (M&IE) reimbursement allowances, official travel begins when the employee leaves the home, office, or other authorized point of departure and ends when the employee returns home, to the office, or other authorized point at the conclusion of the trip.

B. In accordance with General Services Administration (GSA) regulations, employees will be reimbursed for full-day official travel.  Except as noted below, the meals and incidental expenses (M&IE) allowance for a partial day of travel (the first and last day of travel) is a flat three-fourths (%) of the applicable M&IE.

C. For travel of more than twelve (12) hours, but not exceeding twenty-four (24) hours, when lodging is required, employees will be reimbursed at three-fourths (%) of the applicable rate for one twenty-four (24) hour period, as well as lodging expenses.

D. For travel of more than twelve (12) hours, but not exceeding twenty-four (24) hours, when lodging is not required, employees will be reimbursed at a flat three-fourths (%) of the applicable M&IE.

E. Payment of per diem allowance for travel of twelve (12) hours or fewer is prohibited.

Section 13 - Compensatory Time Off for Travel

A. Compensatory time off for travel is earned by an employee for time spent in a travel status away from the employee's ODS when such time is not otherwise compensable.

B. In accordance with 5 C.F.R. § 550.1404(b), time in travel status includes the time an employee actually spends traveling between their official duty station and a temporary duty station (TDY) or between two temporary duty stations, and the usual waiting time that precedes and/or interrupts such travel subject to the following exclusions:

  • If an employee experiences an extended (i.e., not usual) waiting time between actual periods of travel during which the employee is free to rest, sleep, or otherwise use the time for their own purposes, the extended waiting time is not creditable as time in a travel status.

C. For purposes of this Article, "usual waiting time" is defined as ninety (90) minutes prior to the originally scheduled departure time for domestic flights and three (3) hours prior to the originally scheduled departure time for international flights.  Any waiting time beyond this usual waiting time will be considered "extended" and is not creditable as time in a travel status.

D. Employees must complete SEC Form Worksheet for Determining Amount of Compensatory Time for Travel.  The completed worksheet must be submitted with the Travel Voucher and must be consistent with all time claimed thereon.  Upon submission of the requisite documentation, the Employer will approve, deny, or modify an employee's earning request for compensatory time off for travel within a reasonable period of time, but no later than fourteen (14) calendar days from the date of receipt of the submission.

E. Eligible compensatory time off for travel will be credited and used in increments of fifteen (15) minutes.

F. In order to use compensatory time for travel earned, an employee must submit a written request  through the SEC’s electronic time management system.  This request must be approved in advance and in writing by the employee's supervisor.  The Employer will approve an employee's written request to use compensatory time for travel already earned unless the employee's absence will have an adverse effect on staffing, workload, and/or mission requirements.  If an employee's request is denied, the Employer and the employee will attempt to agree upon an alternative time for the employee to use the earned time.

G. Employees must use accrued compensatory time off for travel by the end of the twenty-sixth (26th) pay period after the pay period during which it was earned.  Unused compensatory time off for travel will be held in abeyance for an employee who separates, or is placed in a leave without pay status, and later returns following:  (1) separation or leave without pay to perform service in the uniformed services and a return to service through the exercise of a reemployment right; or (2) separation or leave without pay due to an on-the-job injury with entitlement to injury compensation under 5 U.S.C. Chapter 81.  The employee must use all of the compensatory time off held in abeyance by the end of the twenty-sixth (26th) pay period following the pay period in which the employee returns to duty, or such compensatory time off will be forfeited.  The Employer will notify the employee that their accrued compensatory time off for travel may be forfeited, at least two (2) pay periods prior to forfeiture.

H. As provided in 5 C.F.R. § 550.1408, an employee may not receive payment under any circumstances for an unused compensatory time off they earned under this Article.