Q. Can an agency pay for an employee's lunch every day provided one of the qualifying conditions are met?
A. No. The intent of the regulation is to reimburse for meals on an infrequent basis when official duties require that the employee's regularly scheduled work day be extended three hours or more and the employee has traveled to a point of official business over 30 miles from their official workstation.
Q. What is the employee's regularly scheduled workday?
A. The regularly scheduled workday is the time the employee is scheduled to work on a given day, and assumes a meal break of ½ - 1 hour. For many employees, the regularly scheduled workday is 8 - 5, with 1 hour for lunch.
Q. How do agencies determine which meal to allow for reimbursement - Breakfast, Lunch, or Dinner?
A. Any meal purchased during the travel period would qualify.
Example: Employee leaves at 6:30 AM and returns at 6:30 PM. Employee's regularly scheduled workday is 8 - 5. At the agency head's discretion, this employee could be reimbursed the allowance for breakfast, lunch, OR dinner.
Q. An employee reports to work at 5:00 a.m. and travels to a point where official business is conducted which is over 30 miles from the official station. The employee returns to the office around noon, and remains in the office until 5:00 p.m. The employee's regularly scheduled workday is 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Is this employee entitled to meal reimbursement?
A. Yes. Any day that extends the employee's work time three hours or more and includes travel over 30 miles is eligible. In this situation, if the employee's normal lunch break begins at noon or later, breakfast would appear to be the reimbursable meal.
Q. Is there a requirement that the additional time be all at the beginning or all at the end of the workday?
A. No. An employee's workday must be extended by at least 3 hours to qualify for the meal reimbursement at the discretion of the agency head. If the additional time is all at the beginning of the day, then breakfast or lunch reimbursement seem to be reasonable. Likewise, if the additional time is at the end of the workday, then dinner reimbursement seems to be reasonable, or possibly lunch depending on the departure time.
Q. Can the Agency Head decision to allow meal reimbursement be applied on a "case by case" basis, or does it have to be an agency-wide policy that must apply in all cases?
A. Either method is acceptable and should be stated in your internal travel policies.
Q. If an employee normally works 8 - 5, and changes his regularly scheduled workday to 12:30 PM - 10:00 PM for one day to accommodate a work assignment at a different location, will the change in work schedule qualify the person for meal reimbursement under the provisions of this regulation?
A. By adjusting the workday as described, the employee has not exceeded his workday by 3 hours or more. Therefore, the employee is not entitled to payment for a meal.
Q. If a staff member travels from Topeka to Salina to make presentations but does not work more than 8 hours, can the employee be reimbursed for lunch?
A. This may qualify under item number 2 in Informational Circular No. 02-A-009 which states: "when an employee is required to attend a conference or a meeting as an official guest or participant, and a meal is served during the required attendance time. "
The employee could be reimbursed if a meal was served at the presentation, and the employee was required to pay for it. However, no reimbursement is allowed when a meal is provided at no cost to the employee.
Q. If a board member lives more than 30 miles away from the location of a board meeting (the official station is the member's home) and the travel extends more than three hours over the normal workday, is the board member entitled to meal reimbursement?
A. As long as the normal work schedule (as determined by the agency head) is exceeded by 3 hours, and the meeting is 30 miles or more from the board member's home, it is at the agency head's discretion whether to reimburse for a meal or not. It seems reasonable to include driving time in the calculation of the normal workday since the board member is returning to the official station from the point of business that particular day.
Q. If a board meeting is conducted on Saturday, and the board and staff members required to attend pay a fee to have food brought in at noon, is anyone eligible for meal reimbursement?
A. Only those board members living 30 miles or more from the meeting location would be eligible for meal reimbursement at the agency head's discretion. The requirement that the employee's workday be extended by three hours or more does not apply in this situation. Meals received at no cost to board members cannot be reimbursed to them.
Staff members attending the meeting would be eligible for meal reimbursement ONLY if the meeting were held more than 30 miles from their official station.
Q. A group of employees are required to attend a quarterly meeting at a central location to all attending which lasts from about 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The meeting is held in the conference room of a motel. At the meeting they are served a "working lunch" in order not to lose any meeting time. Under condition number 2 (as stated in Informational Circular 02-A-009) can the employees be reimbursed for this lunch on the day of the meeting?
A. Provided that the point where the official business is conducted (the meeting location) is more than 30 miles from the particular employee's official station, the employees would qualify for the meal (at the discretion of the agency head) based on provision number 2. Since some employee's may be stationed within 30 miles of the meeting location, it is possible that all employees may not qualify for meal reimbursement.
Q. Do these meal reimbursement provisions apply to regular part-time employees? If so, are there any special rules to follow?
A. Although it was not within the original intent of the amendments to the statutes and regulations to allow part-time employees to claim meal reimbursement when not travelling overnight, there is nothing to prohibit an agency head from making the decision to allow reimbursement. Part-time employees are subject to the same restrictions as other employees, but as long as the travel is over 30 miles from the official station, and the employee's regular work schedule is extended by three hours or more, one meal may be paid at the agency head's discretion.
Example: The employee's regular work schedule is 8 - noon each day. The employee is asked to travel with a group (to a location over 30 miles away) and work 8 - 5 on a particular day. Since the employee is working 8 hours that day, and this exceeds their normal work schedule by three hours, the employee could be paid for one meal at the agency head's discretion (probably lunch). However, any other full time staff (assuming their normal work schedule is 8 - 4:30) traveling with this employee would not be eligible for meal reimbursement since the normal work schedule was not extended by three or more hours.
Q. If an employee is regularly scheduled to work twelve hour days, would the employee ever be eligible for meal reimbursement?
A. Yes, but only if the work day was extended to 15 or more hours. The employee must meet the criteria "three hours or more beyond the employee's regularly scheduled workday.
Q. Employees are attending a conference from 7AM-10PM more than 30 miles from their station. During this time period, they are furnished a dinner free of charge. However, lunch was not provided. Can they claim lunch under the same-day meal provisions?
A. Yes, the reimbursement for one meal per day is optional, at the discretion of the agency head or designee. However, if the agency paid the employee's conference registration, one meal has already been paid for that day, and the intent of the regulation is to pay for one meal per day.