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Global Work Glossary

Lost in a maze of global employment jargon? Find your way out with our handy collection of work and HR terminology

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Per Diem

What is Per Diem?

Per diem, a Latin term meaning “per day,” refers to a daily allowance given to employees to cover expenses incurred while on business travel. This allowance is designed to cover the costs of lodging, meals, and incidental expenses when employees are away from their home base for work. Per diem rates are typically set by employers or by government standards, depending on the travel location and duration.

Calculation and Standards

The calculation of per diem rates can vary by country, region, and the policy of the organization. In many cases, governments provide standardized per diem rates based on the cost of living in specific areas. For example, in the United States, the General Services Administration (GSA) sets per diem rates for federal employees, which many private sector companies adopt as a guideline. These rates are adjusted annually to reflect changes in the cost of living.

Benefits of Using Per Diem

Using per diem rates simplifies the process of managing travel expenses by eliminating the need for detailed expense tracking and receipts for every transaction. It allows employees to manage their budget to some extent and reduces administrative overhead for the organization. Per diem also provides a clear and equitable way to handle travel expenses, ensuring that employees are not out of pocket for business-related expenses.

Managing Per Diem

Effective management of per diem involves clear communication of policies and expectations. Organizations should ensure that employees understand how per diem rates are calculated, what expenses are covered, and the procedures for reporting and reimbursement. Compliance with tax laws regarding per diem allowances is also crucial, as these funds can be taxable under certain conditions.

Per diem allowances play a significant role in managing business travel expenses, providing a convenient and fair method for compensating employees when they are on the road. It balances the need to cover costs adequately while controlling corporate expenses and maintaining fiscal responsibility.

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