Compensating Employees for Travel Time

Question:

We have employees who occasionally have to travel from one of our offices to another during their work day.  Are we required to pay them for their travel time?

Answer:

This is a very common situation, and the quick answer is it depends.  Exempt employees generally are not entitled to additional compensation for travel time, so when evaluating whether or not to compensate for travel time you should focus only on your non-exempt staff.  Work-related travel time NOT connected to the employee’s regular commute to and from work should generally be compensated and count toward an employee’s hours worked for the purposes of calculating overtime.

You should also have your travel time pay practices and policies reviewed by your legal counsel for the states and localities in which your employees are working to ensure compliance with applicable laws, and to ensure that your policies and practices are appropriate to your particular situation.

If an employee is commuting from home to their usual work site, it is not counted as compensable work hours; however, non-exempt employees who travel as part of their principal working duties should be compensated. Examples might include an office administrator traveling between multiple offices for meetings or a repairman going from one assignment to the next.

Another example of compensable travel time is if the employee is traveling from home to a non-typical work location and back home in the same day.  The amount of time that the employee spends traveling to and from the non-typical work location that exceeds the employee’s normal commute is considered compensable travel time.

Generally, employees should be compensated for all time spent traveling during regular business hours.

Please bear in mind that laws exist in numerous states that provide expanded definitions of travel time or impose additional requirements for travel time pay. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) addresses this issue specifically in Section 29 CFR § 785.38 (Portal-to-Portal Act).

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