Paying For Travel Time-Are You in Compliance?
Employers know that they do not have to pay employees for the typical commute to work. The tricky part involves nonexempt employees, several work sites or overnight travel. To determine whether or not you have to pay, just remember if the travel is for the benefit of the employee, you don’t have to pay. If the travel is for the benefit of the employer you will have to pay. Here are some important rules to remember.
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Portal-to Portal Act, regular travel back and forth to work does not count as working time unless the employee actually works along the way. This is true even if the work site fluctuates. It does not matter whether the employee works at a fixed location or different job sites. But if you require employees to report to a central location to receive their assignments, supplies or tools, then travel time from the central site to the job site is paid time.
Note: You must count travel that is a regular part of the worker’s daily duties as hours worked because federal law considers it “all in a day’s work.” This includes travel to different job sites during the work day or time spent driving from customer to customer.
Day-Trips-Out of Town
Typically, all travel time on day trips is counted, except meal periods, if the employee travels to another city or job location on assignment. But travel to the airport or train station is not paid because it falls under the home-to-work rule. The travel time by flight and whatever time they spend working after they land, is working time. If they have to spend the night they are only paid for “normal working hours.”
You don’t have to pay employees for time spent at training programs, lectures, or similar activities as long as they meet the following four criteria:
- The event is outside the normal working hours.
- It’s voluntary.
- It’s not job related (employees may want to improve their personal skill set).
- No work is performed during that time.
If all four of the above are not satisfied you must pay.
When in doubt, lean toward paying. It is cheaper in the long run to avoid a Labor Board claim or be faced with a class action lawsuit.