HR Support on Travel Time

Editor's Note: Time spent traveling can count as hours worked under the FLSA.

Michael CardmanOverview: Do employers have to pay employees for time they spend travelling? The answer, as with most things involving Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regulations, is: it depends.

Time an employee spends commuting to work in the morning and returning home in the evening normally does not count as hours worked. But if the employee is required to perform work-related duties, such as picking up some important papers on the way to the office, then the rest of the commute suddenly becomes compensable.

Similar complexities come into play with other forms of travel, including special one-day assignments in another location and overnight travel away from home.

Trends: Smart phones and other new technologies make it easier than ever for employees to perform work-related duties during their commutes. HR should closely monitor this possibility to ensure commutes do not become compensable working time.

Author: Michael Cardman, Legal Editor

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    Updated to reflect information on a federal appeals court's ruling that employers have an obligation to exercise 'reasonable diligence' to find out whether their employees are working off the clock.

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  • Business Travel and Reimbursement Handbook Statement: California

    Type:
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  • Hours Worked: Minnesota

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    Type:
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    It can be difficult to determine whether an employee must be paid for time spent traveling, whether the travel is for a business trip, a commute to work or to visit customers during the course of the workday. This Legal Insight addresses travel time under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in an effort to help employers remain compliant and avoid an employee lawsuit or an investigation from the US Department of Labor (DOL).