Are You Entitled to Be Compensated for Travel Time?

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Travel Time Compensation For The Non-Exempt Employee

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to pay overtime to non-exempt employees, for time worked that exceeds the employee’s usual work time in the employee’s field. Generally, hours worked over 40 hours in a week must be compensated at least one and one-half times the employee’s regular rate of pay.

When determining the number of hours an employee has worked and the corresponding amount of regular pay and overtime pay, employers are required to count certain hours of travel time as work time.

The Portal-to-Portal Act, which amended the FLSA, attempted to clarify the travel time compensation issue.

State and local laws may provide additional protections to employees in
terms of travel time compensation and countable work hours.

In addition, contracts, customs, and practices, including collective bargaining agreements, may impact an employee’s right to travel time compensation.

Some uncertainty and confusion as to compensated travel time remain among employers and employees alike. An employer may fail to count travel time hours as compensable or may fail to count those hours appropriately. Employees are cautioned to keep careful records of their travel hours.

Examples of Paid and Unpaid Travel Time

Pursuant to the Portal-to-Portal Act, employees are not entitled to compensation for time spent traveling to and from their regular workplace (even if a company car is provided).

An employee’s travel time during the course of the workday, from job site to job site, must be counted as hours worked.

Travel time spent by an employee who is required to report to a different location than the employee’s regular work site to receive instructions, perform work, or pick up or drop off tools or other work-related items is counted toward hours worked. While the employee must be compensated for travel time when the employee travels to and from a work assignment in a secondary location, the employee’s usual commuting time may be subtracted from the total number of hours. Thus, if an employee reports to work in a secondary location that is an hour from his or her home and the usual location is 15 minutes away, the employee is entitled to be compensated for the 45 extra minutes of travel time.

An employee who has left work for the day and is called back to address an emergency outside of regular working hours must be paid for time spent traveling to the emergency site.

These examples are by no means exclusive and there are many other circumstances in which an employee’s travel time must be compensated.

Travel Away from Home

Travel away from home is one circumstance that may create confusion. If an employer requires an employee to travel away from home overnight, certain travel time must be counted as work time, including regular hours worked during normal the normal work week, as well as corresponding hours on non-working days.

In other words, an employee’s travel time associated with required overnight stays is counted as compensable work time if it takes place during the employee's normal working hours. Corresponding travel time hours on non-working days (usually Saturday and Sunday) are also compensable. For example, if an employee usually works 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and the employee travels on Sunday to a required work event, the employee’s travel time on Sunday within those normal working hours is compensable.

In general, travel time away from home outside of the employee’s normal working hours is not compensable.

Time spent outside of regular working hours as a passenger in a car, train, plane or other transportation is not considered work time and is not compensable unless the employee is actually performing work during the time spent traveling.

If an employee is required by his or her employer to drive to a location rather than riding as a passenger, that driving time is compensable work time, even if travel occurs outside of normal work hours.

What should you do if your employer fails to appropriately compensate you for travel time?

If an employer violates minimum wage or overtime requirements under the FLSA, an employee may pursue an action to recover back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages, as well as attorney’s fees and court costs. It is important to note that employers cannot retaliate against an employee who files a complaint or participates in an investigation of a complaint by demoting or firing the employee, or by taking any other adverse action against the employee for engaging in that protected activity.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michael Murphy
Michael Murphy is the founding member of Murphy Law Group, LLC, in Philadelphia. Murphy Law Group represents residents of both Pennsylvania and New Jersey who are involved in employment-related disputes with their employers.

Murphy is known for his quality, client-focused representation in all matters pertaining to employment law, including discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and wage and hour violations. He has extensive experience in bringing class-action lawsuits and has successfully recovered millions of dollars in unlawfully denied compensation.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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