The Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA) generally recognizes four types of travel time for non-exempt hourly employees. There may be instances when employee travel may not fall nicely into these four categories. Applying the rules can be complicated in practice and St. Lawrence reserves the right to analyze issues on a case by case basis.
- Ordinary travel time - This is commuting time between home and work and is not compensable.
- Travel that is all in a day’s work - This type of travel is when an employee travels from place to place during the course of the work day and is compensable. However, the trip from home to the first location and trip from last location to home is considered ordinary travel time and is not compensable.
- Travel time on overnight trips - This type of travel is counted as work time and is compensable if the travel cuts across the employee’s regular working hours.
Example: Lawrence works Monday – Friday, 9:00am to 5:00 pm and he leaves on Sunday for an overnight trip to attend a conference. He travels from 3:00pm to 7:00pm. He must be paid for two hours of travel time, from 3:00pm to 5:00pm, the hours that intersect with his regular working hours. It makes no difference that Lawrence doesn’t ordinary work on Sunday. All that matters is the time of the day he ordinarily works. Of course, if while on an overnight trip, Lawrence performs work outside of regularly scheduled work hours, he would be compensated for that time.
Special note: The USDOL does not consider work time that is spent in travel away from home outside of regular working hours as a passenger on an airplane, train, boat, bus or automobile. However, travel time (even outside of the employee’s regular hours) as a driver is generally considered compensable.
- Travel time during special one-day assignments - This type of travel is when and employee is asked to travel to a different city for a day. If this is an unusual assignment for the employee, travel time is considered to be work time, except for the travel time to the airport (or train station) which is similar to home-to-work travel. Special Note: If out of town travel is routine for the employee and was agreed upon at time of hiring to be regular part of the employee’s job, travel time to another city is not compensable but analogous to ordinary home-to-work travel.
Example: Lawrence works 8:00am to 5:00pm and he leaves his office at 1:00 pm to drive to Watertown in a SLU vehicle to attend a meeting.The meeting concludes at 5:30 pm.He drives back to SLU, arriving at 6:45pm, parks the SLU vehicle, and drives home. Lawrence is paid from 8:00am to 6:45pm, excluding his unpaid lunch hour.
Regardless of the type of travel, an employee must always be compensated for work performed while traveling. For example, making business calls, answering email, preparing a presentation, etc. Employees generally need not be paid for time when they are free to do as they please, even if stuck in city that they would not have chosen.