Per Diem Payment Laws in California

Per diem covers business expenses during travel.

California per diem is a monetary allowance for employees who incur job-related travel expenses for work purposes. The Internal Revenue Service provides an outline for employers to go by when paying per diem rates to employees in California. These amounts may change on a yearly basis and is available through the IRS for verification. An employer may choose to reimburse the actual cost of the expense or provide a standard rate, regardless of the actual amount. The employee will receive reimbursement of these expenses individually or in a lump sum amount.



Per Diem is available for employees who incur expenses for meals when traveling for business purposes. It is also available for expenses such as fees, tips, and transportation while working in other cities or outside of California. Payment for lodging under per diem coverage includes the amount of a hotel room for each night the employee is on the business trip. Other expenses incurred by an employee may include tolls, parking, transportation, laundry or communication expenses including phone calls or shipments.


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Excluded expenses may include personal purchases, extra meals outside of breakfast lunch and dinner, souvenirs and entertainment. If the employer has a predetermined rate for per diem, the employee will not receive reimbursement for any business related purchases that exceed that amount. For example, an employee may exceed the per diem amount due meals at a fine dining establishment and would have to pay the excess himself.



Your employer will notify you of the total reimbursement amount of per diem expenses in advance of your trip. If the employer fails to notify the employee, then the company will reimburse the employee the exact amount of expenses he incurred. A receipt is required to provide the employer with the amount of money the employee will receive as the per diem reimbursement if no maximum is set.



The employer must pay the employee a reimbursement of these expenses on payday or at least one time per month and must have all reimbursable receipts, if needed. The employee will receive an itemized report for the reimbursed expenses that will include the period of the reimbursement. If your employer fails to pay or refuses to pay you per diem you are entitled to, you may contact the Labor Commissioner in the state of California. Once he completes and investigation and it is determined the amount the employer owes you, he will collect these wages for payment to you upon receipt.