Rates of subsistence allowance (per diem)

(1)     At the 8th session (February 1950: CC/A.8/SR.8; CO-ORDINATION-PREP/R.176) CCAQ reached agreement (subject to confirmation by correspondence) on: subsistence rates; application of reductions during travel by train, plane and ship; and local rates during stopovers. UN was to be the central co-ordinating office for collection and analysis of data. It would recommend rates after consultation with all agencies concerned, and notify the effective date of application when agreement had been reached.

(2)     At the 11th session (April 1951: CC/A.11/SR.5; CO-ORDINATION/R.93) the Committee approved the revised text of the "Procedure for Establishing Uniform Travel Subsistence Allowance Rates".

(3)     Per diem rates were subsequently reviewed annually and where necessary revised. Comprehensive lists of the approved rates were issued by the Office of the Controller, UN. The basic system was changed as from 1 January 1961 - see paragraph (8) below. For current practice, see para. (27) below.

(4)     At the 18th session (March 1958: CO-ORDINATION/R.245) CCAQ decided that "for meetings and conferences away from headquarters" organizations would continue to establish ad hoc rates in suitable circumstances.

(5)     At the 19th session (March 1958: CO-ORDINATION/R.264) the Committee reviewed the per diem rate for staff below P.3. It concluded that such staff should receive the standard rate. All organizations, except ICAO, undertook to remove, as from 1 July 1958, the reduction for P.1 and P.2 staff. Most organizations expected to apply the standard rates to General Service staff also.

The Committee also agreed common rates for D.1 and D.2; and that henceforth the standard formula for per diem for recognized dependants should be 50 per cent of the official's rate.

(6)     At the 20th session (April 1959: CO-ORDINATION/R.295, para. 65), as the result of a study begun in 1958, the Committee agreed on the principle of reconciliation of the CCAQ/TAB rates, but decided that any new scheme should be implemented only after the expected legislative changes in the local costs system of the Expanded Programme of Technical Assistance had taken place. UN and TAB secretariats would elaborate details of reconciliation and circulate proposals. The reconciliation scheme should be worked out initially for the Professional category only, the question of Principal Officers and Directors being considered later.

(7)     Also at the 20th session, the Committee agreed that:

  1. the provision for reduction of per diem after prolonged stay in the same station should be replaced by a provision that, if a staff member was sent to a station for a long period (two or more months), a reduced rate for the entire period could be established;
  2. a reduction of 40 per cent for lodging and/or 40 per cent for food should be made if one or the other or both were provided;
  3. the policy of reducing per diem during periods spent in hospital should continue.

CCAQ also advised TAB regarding financial implications where a short-term expert retained his lodgings while on mission away from his normal duty station (CO-ORDINATION/R.295, para. 81).

(8)     At the first part of the 21st session (April 1960: CO-ORDINATION/R.325, paras. 77-80) CCAQ adopted proposals for the reconciliation of CCAQ/TAB per diem rates which entailed, as from 1 January 1961:

  1. abolition of the CCAQ system of standard travel per diem rates;
  2. the introduction of rates for each country or area;
  3. the application in each country of a "rate for the first sixty days in any one place" and a rate (usually lower) for periods in excess of sixty days. The first rate would be expressed in United States dollars and local currency; the second in local currency only. Actual currency of payments would be governed by the rules of the organizations concerned.

Arrangements by which ad hoc rates could be set in special circumstances (e.g. conferences) would continue.

(9)     At the same session (CO-ORDINATION/R.325, paras. 45-46) CCAQ decided that where General Service staff were assigned to a temporary duty station for less than one year they should receive a "special subsistence allowance". UN Controller was requested to promulgate any rates established for particular duty stations, and other organizations were to inform UN if they established such rates in areas where there was no UN rate.

(10)     At the second part of 21st session (August 1960: CO-ORDINATION/R.351, paras. 39(b) and 42) CCAQ agreed that an annual review of subsistence allowance rates would be undertaken by UN Controller, in consultation with TAB secretariat. The reports on such reviews would be circulated to organizations for comment. UN and TAB would also consult on changes between annual reviews, and would decide whether consultation with other organizations was desirable in these cases; such consultation would normally be held in special problem cases or where one organization had a particular interest (ICAO requested advance consultation in respect of Bangkok, Cairo, Lima and Mexico City).

(11)     CCAQ also noted that ILO and WHO had established a per diem rate of $ 25 for New York. The other agencies thought this should be the agreed rate for New York and UN undertook to review its position on the matter.

(12)     At the second part of the 22nd session (July 1961: CO-ORDINATION/R.373, para. 24) CCAQ examined a TAB report concerning hotel costs in West Africa in relation to subsistence rates.

It felt that normal CCAQ machinery could deal adequately with the question whether revision was necessary, but organizations should send all available data promptly to UN Controller to permit urgent review of the relevant rates.

(13)     At the 23rd session (March 1962: CO-ORDINATION/R.391, paras. 47-49) the Committee reviewed the working of the new CCAQ/TAB per diem system (see para. (8) above), with particular reference to the "after-sixty-days" rate. FAO and WHO applied this to short-term staff on the basis of "time spent within the country"; other organizations on the basis of "time spent at the same place". It was agreed that a uniform procedure should be sought after further experience.

It was also noted that it was normal practice, where the facts so warranted, to fix special per diem rates for General Service staff travelling in their own country. Inter-organization agreement on such rates should be sought where necessary.

(14)     (a)      At its 28th session (March 1967: CO-ORDINATION/R.604, paras. 51-57) CCAQ reviewed the principles for determining rates of subsistence allowance, in accordance with a decision taken at the 27th session (March 1966: CO-ORDINATION/R.532, para. 47). The Committee agreed that:

    1. the cost of a single room with bath, and the cost of breakfast, in good, but not luxury, hotels suitable for international officials, including any compulsory service charges or taxes, should be taken as the basis of calculation of the rate.

To this should be added:

  1. the cost of lunch and dinner (i.e. one "full meal" and one smaller meal), including anycompulsory service charges or taxes; and
  2. a percentage for incidentals, fixed at 15 per cent of (i) plus (ii) where compulsory service changes or taxes were included, and 25 per cent where no such charges or taxes were included in the cost of room and meals. "Home savings" in respect of expenditure on food, transport and incidentals which would have been incurred at the permanent duty station but for the absence of the official were taken into account in fixing these percentage figures for incidentals.

     (b)     The Committee also agreed that no reduction in existing rates should be made as a result of the application of the revised formula.

     (c)     As regards the procedure to be followed for the establishment of rates of subsistence allowance for locally-recruited General Service staff required to travel within their own countries, CCAQ agreed that appropriate rates should continue to be fixed by inter-organization agreement in the area, due consideration being given to local conditions.

(15)     At the same session CCAQ agreed that when lodging was provided by a government or by an organization free of charge (irrespective of type or source of supply) the standard rate should be reduced by 40 per cent; if meals were provided, the reduction should similarly be 40 per cent; if both meals and accommodation were provided, the reduction should be 70 per cent. The Committee noted that, in some cases, free accommodation was offered in barracks or boats, and in some cases staff were provided with tents. Nevertheless, it agreed that where no actual expenditure for accommodation was incurred no reimbursement would be justified, and the standard rate should accordingly be reduced by 40 per cent in these circumstances. (Secretariat note: this rule was not intended to apply to cases where accommodation is provided by friends, on the grounds that such hospitality is reciprocal).

(16)     It did not prove possible, at the 28th session (March 1967), to reach agreement on:

     (a)     possible revision of the practice of paying a higher rate to staff at levels D.1 and D.2. In most organizations, the standard rate for the first sixty days was increased by 20 per cent, subject to a maximum (except where the standard rate itself was higher) of $ 20. Some organizations wished to continue the practice and to raise the ceiling from $ 20 to $ 24. Others wished either to discontinue the practice or at least to make no increase in the $ 20 maximum. CCAQ agreed to pursue the matter through Staff Office.

     (b)     a uniform practice regarding the reduction normally applied to subsistence rate after the expiration of sixty days. The practice followed by most organizations in applying the "after-sixty-days" rate was as follows:

  1. in the case of regular staff and project personnel, assigned to a regular duty station and eligible for post adjustment at that station, the first sixty days meant the first sixty days, consecutive or otherwise, at any temporary duty station, within any authorized journey or tour of temporary duty away from the regular duty station;
  2. for short-term project personnel and other short-term staff, the first sixty days meant sixty days at any one location, consecutive or otherwise, within a tour of service during a single or consecutive series of short-term contracts.

(17)     At its 29th session (March 1968: CO-ORDINATION/R.669, para. 74) CCAQ agreed that the subsistence allowance for levels D.1 and D.2 should be (subject to rounding-off of figures) 15 per cent more than the standard rate (instead of 20 per cent as previously) subject to a maximum of $ 23 outside New York and a maximum of $ 30 at New York, unless the standard rate at the duty station concerned is itself higher than the relevant maximum.

(18)     At its 31st session (March 1970: CO-ORDINATION/R.798, paras. 51 and 52) CCAQ noted that the General Assembly in 1968 had amended the legislation regarding subsistence allowance for members of Commissions, etc. The rate for the latter was now 40 per cent above the standard rate although provision existed whereby the Secretary-General might apply a maximum where circumstances seemed to justify it. There was accordingly no longer a valid reason why subsistence rates for D.1/D.2 should be limited to $ 30 at New York and $ 23 outside. CCAQ agreed that these limits should be removed from 1 March 1970.

(19)     At the same session (CO-ORDINATION/R.798, paras. 49 and 50) CCAQ considered differences in organization practice with respect to calculation of per diem entitlements generally. It agreed that (a) in principle the full rate of per diem should only be payable when the official had to spend a night away from home; (b) in such a case, the appropriate full rate should be the rate applicable to the place where he spent the night.

Accordingly it agreed, with UNESCO reserving its position, that:

     (a)     for a journey of less than twenty-four hours:

  1. if it involved a night away from home the full rate of per diem should be payable (unless the organization paid for the accommodation, in which case the usual 40 per cent reduction should be made);
  2. if it did not involve a night away from home
    • nothing should be paid for a journey of less than eight hours;
    • 40 per cent should be paid for a journey of eight hours or more.

     (b)     For journeys exceeding 24 hours:

  1. one full day's per diem should be paid for the day of departure, the applicable rate being that for the place of arrival;
  2. for each successive period of 24 hours from midnight to midnight (measured by local times, ignoring time-zone differences) one full day's per diem should be paid except that (1) no per diem would be payable for the last day of the journey; and (2) where board and/or lodging was provided from official sources the agreed percentage deductions should be made;
  3. the rate applicable for each 24-hour period would be that for the place at which the official spent the night. If the official was travelling for all or part of a night, the appropriate rate was the rate for his place of arrival. Thus the rate for 7 January would be the rate for the place where the night of 7-8 January was spent, and if the official was travelling through the night of 7/8, the rate would be that applicable at the place of arrival.

(20)     At its 33rd session (March 1971, CO-ORDINATION/R.863, para. 42) CCAQ agreed that the higher rate of subsistence allowance payable to regular staff in grades D.1 and D.2 should be extended to project and other staff members who were on scales of pay identical with those of D.1 or D.2. WHO agreement was subject to the understanding that none of its P.6/D.1 staff, wherever located, would attract the higher rate.

(21)     At a special session in July 1972 (CO-ORDINATION/R.947, paras. 16-18) CCAQ modified the agreement recorded in 19 (a) (ii) above by providing that no per diem should be paid for a journey of less than ten hours if it did not involve a night away from home, and that 40% should be payable for a journey of ten hours or more. It agreed also that the terms "travel" or "mission" should not be construed to include journeys within a reasonable commuting area or daily journeys to project sites.

(22)     At its 37th session (March 1973: CO-ORDINATION/R.984, paras. 69-70) CCAQ noted that DSA entitlements were computed and established in local currencies but were also published in US dollar terms at the UN operational exchange rate. When the exchange rate changed there was sometimes a lag in publishing the new dollar rate, which caused difficulty. CCAQ agreed that effective 16 February 1973 the new dollar rate of DSA should be effective on the same date as the change in exchange rate. Thus if travel covered the 15th to the 25th day of a month and there was an exchange rate change on the 20th of the month, the dollar entitlement in force up to the 19th of the month should apply to the travel from the 15th to the 19th, and the new dollar rate should apply as from the 20th.

(23)     At the same session (March 1973: CO-ORDINATION/R.984, paras. 71-73) CCAQ discussed whether the 15 to 40% addition to standard rates of DSA payable to staff of D.2 or ADG rank was justified when the standard DSA rate itself was based on costs in luxury-type hotels. The Committee considered that the establishment of special hotel-by-hotel differentials, at duty stations where good commercial hotels of an acceptable standard were available, was unjustified, and that the practice of setting special DSA rates for particular hotels should be eliminated. This would not preclude the setting of rates based on costs of higher class hotels at duty stations where the normal "good commercial" standard was not available, nor the establishment, for a specific conference or meeting when all participants were expected to use a particular hotel, of ad hoc rates applicable to all the participants. The UN was requested to re-examine with particular regard to national practice, the basis for the differential in DSA for higher grade staff.

(24)     As a result of a changing pattern of relationships between costs of hotel rooms and costs of meals, as shown in recent surveys, CCAQ decided at its 41st session (March 1975: CO-ORDINATION/R.1087, para. 66)that henceforth the deductions to be made from the subsistence allowance should be 50 per cent if lodging was provided, 30 per cent if meals were provided and 80 per cent if both. It was also agreed that claims for exceptional treatment should be examined in relation to all the circumstances and in relation to the accommodation which the staff member had been required to accept.

(25)     At its 53rd session (July 1980: ACC/1980/17, paras. 72-73), CCAQ agreed that there was no need to harmonize the practice of organizations with respect to terminal expenses: some organizations reimbursed actual expenses while others paid a flat rate. Those applying the flat rate were urged to review their arrangements with a view to simplifying administration and revising the rate paid.

(26)     At its 57th session (July 1982: ACC/1982/23, paras. 111-114) CCAQ considered proposals by WIPO that: a list of cities in which experience had shown that it was reasonable on grounds of security and hygiene to authorize a special rate of DSA be established; ICSC be requested to review its methodology for setting DSA; and a list of hotels granting staff members discounts be established. CCAQ agreed that where ad hoc adjustments to rates of DSA were required because of hotel costs superior to those taken into account by ICSC, they should continue to be made, and suitable information made available to organizations for this purpose. CCAQ agreed that in general problems related to DSA could be dealt with more adequately if there was a greater exchange of information between organizations and the ICSC secretariat (See also para. (31) below).

(27)     Present position: The International Civil Service Commission (ICSC) establishes the rates of daily subsistence allowance, which normally consist of two sets of rates, one applicable during the first 60 days and the other applicable after 60 days. These rates are published on a monthly basis in document ICSC/CIRC/DSA.

(28)     At its 61st session (July 1984), CCAQ approved special measures concerning the level of evacuation allowances effective 1 August 1984 (ACC/1984/16, para. 116 and annex VII).

(29)     At its 62nd session (March 1985: ACC/1985/6, paras. 126-127), CCAQ reviewed the possibility of harmonizing practices regarding DSA payment in cases of medical evacuation. It agreed that the following might constitute a suitable framework for all organizations to agree on, the detailed application of which could be left to each organization:

     (a)     When a staff member was evacuated to a place other than the place of home leave, DSA was payable at full rate for the staff member, and half-rate for an accompanying family member, unless the staff member was hospitalized, in which case DSA was paid to him at one-third full rate, and at full rate to one accompanying family member, and at half-rate for any others authorized to travel.

     (b)     When a staff member was evacuated to the place of home leave, no DSA was payable to the staff member or accompanying family members. Reimbursement of actual hotel expenses at the rate of 80 percent or 50 percent of the DSA rate applying to the location concerned, whichever was lower, for the staff member and one accompanying family member, upon presentation of receipts, may be authorized.

     (c)     Any doctor or nurse authorized to accompany the staff member should receive DSA at the full rate for the place of evacuation.

     (d)     All DSA payments should normally be limited to a duration of 30 days.

(30)     Also at the 62nd session, FAO proposed to revise the inter-agency agreement concerning the daily subsistence allowance rate for journeys of more than 10 hours not involving a night away from the duty station (see para. 21 above). CCAQ did not consider that the proposed change (from 10-12 hours) would be appropriate (ACC/1985/6, paras. 146-147).

(31)     At its 63rd session (July 1985), CCAQ noted that the practices of organizations concerning the granting of supplemental DSA when staff had to stay in expensive hotels were largely consistent (ACC/1985/14, para. 102). In reverting to the question at its 64th session (March 1986), on the basis of an analysis of practices by the secretariat, the Committee expressed the view that reference to the actual average room rate used by ICSC in setting standard DSA represented a sound basis for the calculation of supplemental DSA, which could be followed by all organizations. Consultations should be held with the ICSC secretariat regarding provision of the requisite information to organizations. The Committee also recognized the desirability of co-ordinating the setting of ad hoc DSA rates for conferences; the organization responsible would make the relevant information available to the others in advance (ACC/1986/3, paras. 88-95).

(32)     At its 63rd session (July 1985), CCAQ considered the possibility that additional DSA might be paid in respect of visiting children (on education grant travel) when staff lived in hotels. While recognizing that such cases were of a most exceptional nature, the Committee agreed to recommend to organizations to consider them with flexibility (ACC/1985/14, para. 104).

(33)     At its 64th session (March 1986), CCAQ addressed the issue of concurrent payment of DSA and overtime to General Service staff on mission (ACC/1986/3, paras. 103-105). It concluded that a harmonious approach to this issue was desirable; for those very exceptional circumstances where overtime work had to be authorized, and provided it was subject to rigorous administrative controls, some form of overtime compensation should be permitted.

(34)     At its 66th session (March 1987), CCAQ approved guidelines for the payment of daily subsistence allowance for locally-recruited staff, including EGSL and National Professional Officers (ACC/1987/4, para. 73).

(35)     At its 68th session (February-March 1988: ACC/1988/4, paras. 174, 175), CCAQ decided that a general approach need not be adopted towards a suggestion emanating from ICSC for restructured DSA rates such as those introduced in November 1987 in New York, incorporating an "after 30 days" rate. Should circumstances at other headquarters duty stations appear to justify such a modified rate, full consultations with all organizations represented there should take place first.

(36)     At its 71st session (September 1989: ACC/1989/15, para. 48) CCAQ(FB) recommended a review of DSA rates in all countries with tourist rates of exchange.

(37)     At its 72nd session (February-March 1990: ACC/1990/4, paras. 158, 159) CCAQ discussed the period during which DSA should be paid in cases of medical evacuation, a matter raised by the Medical Directors. Its Field Working Group confirmed that 30 days' DSA remained the general rule and that organizations wished to retain that limit. CCAQ endorsed its conclusion.

(38)     At the 78th session (March 1993), CCAQ(FB) was informed of a recent decision by UN to raise from 80 to 100 per cent the maximum amount of daily subsistence allowance that could be advanced for travel on official business, and of the reasons for the change (ACC/1993/7, para. 72).

(39)     At its February 2005 meeting (CEB/2005/HLCM/8, para. 26) the HR Network considered the issue of DSA for locally-recruited staff which were established as percentages of the DSA for internationally recruited staff. These rates varied among duty stations, as did the application by organizations of the differentiated rates. The Network welcomed the suggestion made by the ILO to review the application of DSA for locally recruited staff with a view to harmonizing the existing practices and requested the CEB secretariat to conduct a survey of current practices. It agreed to include the matter in the agenda of its next meeting in July 2005.

(40)     At its July 2005 meeting (CEB/2005/HLCM/27, para. 24) the HR Network, recognizing the importance of consistency in the rates DSA for locally recruited staff across the common system at individual duty stations, agreed that: (a) Locally-recruited staff, when on duty travel outside the country of assignment, should be paid 100 per cent of the DSA established for the place of travel; (b) DSA rates for locally-recruited staff, when on duty travel within the country of assignment, should be established by the lead agency, in full consultation with all other organizations represented at the duty station; (c) The Local Salary Survey Committee (LSSC) should not be involved in the process of establishing local DSA rates nor should the lead agency be required to refer the matter back to headquarters; (d) The lead agency should however ensure that the established rates are published widely in the country and reported to the CEB secretariat to be posted on its website as a central repository; and (e) Exceptions to the established rate should be granted under special circumstances such as when local staff were required to stay at a MOSS compliant hotel.

  • Human Resources Network (HRN)