A couple of years ago, I was part of project team that traveled to a client’s facility in South Korea. It was our company’s first experience in Korea, and so our accounting department didn’t have a historic per diem value for that particular city. It ended up using the per diem value we used for major U.S. and Canadian cities. Some of my coworkers were already unhappy with the Korean assignment, due to the long absence from home, and they felt we deserved more compensation. So they pushed the accounting department to increase the per diem, claiming that the cost of living in that particular city is higher than at home.
To verify the cost, the accounting department sent out emails to everyone on the project team. It asked us to list the cost of food, drinks, and groceries–basically everything we have been paying out of our own pocket since we arrived. Although it was never verbally agreed upon, there was an unspoken understanding that we would overstate the expenses, to obtain what some of us believed we were entitled to.
Because this was an unusual assignment, I understand why some felt the need for greater recognition. However, I didn’t agree that manipulating the per diem and having a few extra drinks on the company every day is the right way to do it. I struggled with the dilemma for a couple of days and then decided what I should do. What do you think?
Contributed by RL.
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