When a potential employer extends a job offer, it typically includes details about salary, health benefits, vacation time and sick leave policies. In some cases, employers may also offer a per diem to their workers. Per diem is an allowance that is intended to cover an employee’s expenses “per day.” West Virginia employees receiving a per diem should understand what exactly that entails and how it may affect their overtime rates.

What can a per diem be used for?

Most jobs do not require a per diem, especially those that do not involve travel. However, if a position requires a worker to meet with clients out-of-state or out-of-country, attend meetings or overnight trainings, or visit company branches in various cities, a per diem is important. The allowance should be enough to cover the worker’s meals and tips, lodging, transportation services, and other sundry expenses. Companies usually purchase air fare separately, not as part of a per diem.

Any part of a per diem an employee does not spend does not have to be returned to the employer. The federal government sets standards for the amount of per diem an employer should provide, and any amount over that rate is taxable for the employee. However, a per diem should be included when an employer is calculating the rate of overtime pay an employee should get. Often employers omit this portion of income, which results in employees receiving less overtime pay than they have earned.

West Virginia employees may have numerous issues with per diem pay. An employer may pay less than the government rate requires, may incorrectly calculate overtime pay or may breach an employment contract by withholding per diems. In such cases, the advice of an attorney can provide valuable direction for how to claim rightfully earned wages.