General Question

selfe's avatar

How much is the travel allowance for per diem positions? And no health insurance even if you work as many hours as a part-time employee?

Asked by selfe (272 points ) January 16th, 2013

I’m being offered a per diem position with a one hour minimum per shift in a U.S. state where I believe employers are supposed to provide health insurance to their employees. HR told me that since it is a per diem position no health insurance is provided. I was also told that a travel allowance is on the table for the commute from home to the place of work. How much do employees get for travel reimbursement in similar situations? Also, should per diem employees receive at least partial health insurance benefits if they were to consistently work as many hours as a part-time employee? Thank you in advance for any insight you might have!

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13 Answers

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

What state requires employers to provide health insurance?

With a few limited exceptions, the costs of commuting between home and work are nondeductible personal expenses. If an employer pays an employee to commute, the money is generally treated as taxable compensation. If you’ll get a travel allowance for commuting to your new job, you’ll most likely receive a form of additional wages, fully subject to income and payroll taxation.

marinelife's avatar

As to the health insurance, it depends on the kind of position. It is perfectly OK for them to hire per diem workers without those benefits.

Per diem allowances depend on the company. Usually the company has a per mile charge and a charge for meals. It can range widely. Here is table of the rates set by the US government which vary by state.

selfe's avatar

I had heard that in Massachusetts employers must provide health insurance. I wonder if this is still true. Thank you for your response, PaulSadieMartin.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

^^^ The CONUS tables provide per diem rates for business travel away from an employee’s place of work—lodging, meals, and incidentals.

For local driving, the standard mileage rate for 2013 is $.565 for each business mile driven. But, again, commuting seldom qualifies as “business mileage”; if you get reimbursed for your commuting mileage, you’ll be taxed on the payments.

Concerning Massachusetts… Every state resident is required to have health insurance, but employers aren’t necessary required to provide coverage. The rules are rather convoluted and migraine-inducing.

JLeslie's avatar

If the per diem worker does not consistently work over 32 hours a week, most likely health insurance won’t be offered. But, it will vary by state and by employer. Laws might have changed a little under Obama, I don’t know for sure what the federal minimum is. If you are paid as a contracter, meaning you bill them the time and will receive a 1099 not a W-2 in January for taxes, then no matter how much you work they would probably not have to offer health insurance, because you are technically self employed.

Driving is around 55ยข a mile right now. Looks like @PaulSadieMartin might have the exact amount. I thought I received mileage as an expense reimbursement, not pay? But, I am not sure. It’s been many years since I received mileage money.

selfe's avatar

Do part-time employees that work between 20 and 30 hours per week usually have partial health insurance benefits? What do you mean with “federal minimum”, JLeslie? I do understand that independent contractors/self-employed individuals that receive a 1099 at the end of the year are in a different situation. Thank you for your answer, JLeslie!

burntbonez's avatar

There is no employer mandate for health insurance in the United States. You must negotiate that between you and your employer. If they refuse to provide insurance, you must purchase your own insurance or go to another employer who will provide it. Welcome to America!

Similarly, a travel allowance, should it be offered, is up for negotiation. Most employers do not provide a travel allowance unless you are traveling a very long distance to get to work. They might also offer it if they are having trouble recruiting. However, if they are having trouble recruiting, they might offer insurance or more hours to sweeten the pot. Sounds like you are going for a job where the employer holds all the cards.

What kind of work is it?

JLeslie's avatar

Federal minimum means a federal law the states must adhere to. For instance if the federal minimum wage is $7 then states can have their own minimum, say $7.50, but they can not go below the federal minimum.

However, I asked my husband (he does this sort of work) and he said right now it is completely up to the company and company policy who they offer insurance to. Offering insurance is basically to be competitive in the market place at this point, and not governed by laws. But, under Obama every employee would be eligible for some sort of health insurance, and if the company does not offer insurance they pay a fine into the government and the employee can buy insurance through some sort of exchange, but the exchange has not been set up yet. My husband thinks that new Obama rule kicks in in 2014, but is not 100% sure.

Basically, I think your company has every right not to offer you insurance. You can buy catastrophic care insurance usually for a decent rate on your own. Look into that. Doesn’t cover basic appointments to the doctor, or might have a very high deductable, but if something horrible happens, God forbid, that would cost a lot of money, you would have some coverage.

JLeslie's avatar

Update: it came to my husband’s attention that Obamacare requires employees working 30+ hours must be offered health insurance. Not sure when this goes into effect, if it is this year or next. Supposedly some businesses are already making changes to ensure part-timers work less than 30 hours a week.

JLeslie's avatar

Possibly this is only for companies over a certain size, meaning a certain amount of employees. I don’t know, I just thought of that now. Small companies (not to be confused with small business) tend to not have to meet many regulations. Back when I was in college the threshold was <15 employees for many things,bit that might have changed, I was in college 25 years ago. Back then the topics tended to be affirmative action and quotas, which small companies were exempt from.

Most companies already give employees over 32 or 35 hours benefits, depending on the company. Some companies I worked for it was anything over 22 hours.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

I’m 100% in favor of reforming this broken, wasteful, and often unaccessible mess that passes for U.S. health care. I wish we’d begin by breaking the link between employers and health insurance. I have no idea how health coverage developed into an employee benefit, sometime during the mid-20th century, but I’d love to see it stop.

(1) Medical information is supposedly confidential and private. Few people are aware that their employers can review their insurance claims and learn their most intimate secrets. How do I know this? Because I’ve been the benefits contact for employers, frequently prodded by insurance companies to read claims and keep abreast of who’s costing too much in medical care. Also because I once had a job where the receptionist asked for some planned sick leave, and the office manager screamed, “Not if you’re having another abortion! That’s a sin.”

(2) This country supposedly values entrepreneurship and small businesses. But, those are the very companies who don’t have access to insurance for their employees or owners. Small businesses, including single-owner companies, can’t spread the risk and are often denied coverage.

(3) If someone’s gravely ill with a long-term illness or disabling injury, that individual can’t work. No job = no health insurance = no coverage for care that’s life-saving or otherwise needed.

(4) Insurance premiums are higher for older workers (not old enough for Medicare, but mature in years). Employers have a real incentive to ditch workers above a certain age and replace them with 20-somethings. Middle-aged people lose their jobs, and companies lose the knowledge and skills that experienced employees bring to the workplace.

JLeslie's avatar

@PaulSadieMartin Gawd, now I have another reason why I hate health insurance coming through the employer. Number one I find very upsetting.

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