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6 Simple Rules for Determining When You Get Paid for Work Travel

Does your work require you to travel? Time spent traveling for work during normal hours is compensable, according to the Fair Labor Standards Act. But what about time traveling after work or during overnight stays?

The following guidelines can help clarify when an employee should be paid for traveling:

  1. Time spent traveling from home to work generally is not compensable — even if it is in an employer-provided vehicle. This is considered regular home-to-work travel, which is not work time.
  2. However, if an employee travels home at the end of the work day and then is called back to work for an emergency, he or she must be paid for that travel time.
  3. Special work assignments can also result in paid travel. In this situation, an employee who works at one location is given a special assignment to work someplace else for the day — a warehouse two hours away for example. Extra time spent traveling to and from the special work location is compensable.
  4. Time spent traveling during the work day as part of the employee’s responsibilities is also compensable. For example, a television reporter who must travel to interview a source on-camera should be paid for that travel time.
  5. Employees can be paid for overnight work travel away from home, so long as it is during regular work hours. Time spent traveling after work hours is not compensable. For example, an employee regularly works from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and must travel one day from 9 a.m. to noon, then work from noon to 5 p.m. The next day, she works from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and travels back from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. In this situation, she can only be paid for the second day’s travel until 5 p.m. The time spent traveling from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. is considered after-hours and is not compensable.
  6. If an employee was working before the required travel — or he was transporting necessary tools or equipment during the travel — then it may be compensable. For example, an employee who goes to a central work site to pick up tools, then drives to report to another work site, must be compensated for that travel time.
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