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IBEW response to NAV CANADA Online #176/09 (Breakfast at hotels)

Jan 18, 2010

I expect that most of you, if not all of you, have read NAV CANADA's “iExpense: Quick Tips Bulletin No. 4”.  This so-called “Quick Tip” reminds employees that they are not entitled to claim breakfast if it is provided by the hotel.  NAV CANADA is relying on section 4.1.3 of the travel program to make this statement. It reads as follows:

“4.1.3 For each day or part day in travel status where overnight accommodation is authorized, a traveller shall be paid a meal allowance for each breakfast, lunch and dinner when applicable, if the meal was not provided free of cost to the traveller, or as part of the transportation cost. When this allowance is paid, no additional amount may be claimed for meals, or for gratuities associated with meals, except in situations identified in 4.7.3.” (Emphasis added)

It is true that employees are not permitted to claim for meals that are provided free of cost to the traveller.  However, not all hotels provide breakfast.  Some will only provide a continental breakfast which is not the same thing.  Moreover, not all breakfasts are created equal.  As a business traveller myself I know that the quality and quantity can vary greatly from one hotel to another.

NAV CANADA is working on a clarification to this bulletin.  I expect the company will clarify that continental breakfasts are not to be considered "breakfast" for purposes of the travel program.

For our part, we have to live with the current language in section 4.1.3 the travel program.  If a breakfast is “provided” (which means “made available”) then you are not automatically entitled to claim breakfast.  However you do have other options.  One is to select a hotel which doesn't serve breakfast (although this isn't always convenient). The second option is to purchase your breakfast elsewhere, keep the receipt and explain why the breakfast at the hotel you used wasn't suitable.  If the company rejects your claim for breakfast then the union will review the facts and determine whether a grievance is appropriate in the circumstances.

It's unfortunate we have to take this approach but little choice until the next review of the Travel Program.

In solidarity,

Daniel J Boulet

Business Manager / Financial Secretary