I work as a consultant through my own limited company for a large international organisation at an agreed day rate for 7.5 hours working time per day. (External Consultant)

Recently I've been asked to do more travelling as part of my role meeting clients in different countries by a project manager. A recent business trip organised to a client meeting requires a round trip in a day that takes 16 hours from boarding to arrival (not including my normal commute).

Is it acceptable for me to bill this as the equivalent of 2 days work?

I've asked about the normal procedure for this and they are not keen on allowing me to bill for the total hours and requested a "reasonable" amount billed however this is very vague. In my opinion my time away from home (apart from commuting to the head office) is work time.

There is also a possibility that this trip will become a weekly or fortnightly event.

I'm happy to travel every now and again but I also do not want to give my time up for free

  • This sounds like the kind of thing you have to ask your company/manager. They're the only ones who can tell you whether it's acceptable to bill it like that. – Erik Oct 25 '17 at 8:03
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    I think you should edit that into the question, then. It changes the question (from one that's off-topic, even) – Erik Oct 25 '17 at 8:10
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    You signed a contract when you started as a consultant for the company, what does the contract say about travelling time? If it doesn't, you missed a rather large hole there and need to confirm with the company you are working with what they're willing to pay. In the end, it's negotiable between you and the company and you should have clarified that at the start, or at least before your first trip – Draken Oct 25 '17 at 9:09

Based on your recent edit, it clearly isn't acceptable to your client company that you bill for your time over and above your usual commute time.

So you either have to compromise, or accept it.

Or find ways in which you can do the same work remotely at least some of the time.

Clearly, they're throwing you a bone here in requesting a "reasonable" amount, so meet them half way here and do what you can to cut down the amount of times you have to spend travelling away.

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  • Sorry Snow, I forgot to mention I am my own manager in this instance. – StuP1978 Oct 25 '17 at 8:21
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    Yes, but someone pays you, there's somewhere where you submit your timesheets and expenses. – user44108 Oct 25 '17 at 8:26
  • @StuP1978 You say, "I've been asked to do more travelling as part of my role". Who has asked you to do this? Interpret "manager" in Snow's answer to be that person. Clearly, it is important for you to follow this person's instructions, so he is effectively your manager in this context. – Masked Man Oct 25 '17 at 8:30
  • @MaskedMan I imagine the person asking is the client, in which case it's not particularly unreasonable to just tell them you'd charge your hourly rate for extended travel (ideally ahead of time). – Bernhard Barker Oct 25 '17 at 8:58
  • @dukeling Right, the point I was trying to make is since they asked him to travel more, it is reasonable to ask them to pay for the expenses. If instead, the OP decided to travel more of his own accord (to get more business or whatever), then it might be unreasonable to ask the client to pay for those expenses. – Masked Man Oct 25 '17 at 9:34

I work in a similar scenario where I am a contractor through my own limited company with clients. This is usually something that should be provided for in the contract with the client company, where there may be a standard business day defined as say 8 hours. If due to travel I was working a substantial number of extra hours I would normally want to have any additional payment defined in the contract, but if not I would discuss with the person that authorizes my payments from the client to get agreement on what the payment should be in this scenario.

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You need to figure out how it will impact your income and expenses, then calculate what you need to charge to not be worse off with the additional travel.

If you were on average billing x hours per month then you still need to be able to bill for those same number of hours. Requiring frequent 16 hour days due to the travel, could impact your ability to generate billable hours upon return. The travel across timezone could also impact the day before or the day after the meeting, due the logistics of flight availability.

I have seen this done by defining travel hours. This limits the hours that they can expect you to travel, and how those hours are billed. This also means that you will have to calculate and provide an estimate of the hours and costs for each trip so they can approve each trip. This will need to be done as each trip is requested.

You will also have to specify the limits of flights, parking, hotels, food while on these trips. Some could be fixed, while others can only be done after the destinations are known.

All of this needs to be covered in the contract(s) you have with the company.

Of course you have to factor in the risk that you will lose the customer if they decide you no longer meet their needs.

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