Overview: Do employers have to pay employees for time they spend traveling? 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: Technology 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
Updated to reflect a US Department of Labor (DOL) opinion letter concerning civic or charitable work.
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Use this workflow to determine whether the time that a nonexempt employee spends traveling counts as "hours worked" under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
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HR guidance on complying with the FLSA requirements for employee travel time.