The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) recently released a new opinion letter about travel time for employees. The WHD issued the letter because an employee asked a specific question about whether someone who chooses to telework for part of the day and work at the office for part of the day should be compensated for their travel time.
The WHD decided that the compensability of this drive depends on several factors, including when the employee begins working again and the details of their commute. For example, an employee who drives from the office to work from home may be compensated if they immediately begin work upon returning to their home office, and the relocation is not part of a normal commute; but an employee who runs errands along the way and decides when they resume work may not be entitled to compensation.
In its opinion, the WHD cited the following principles on the compensability of travel time:
- Normal commuting or ordinary travel from home to work (and vice versa) is not compensable.
- An employee does not need to be paid for hours they are off duty (i.e., time that they can use effectively for personal purposes, like errands).
- Travel between worksites within the workday is considered part of the day’s work.
- Continuous workdays are compensable.
If you travel from your office to your home office, your employer may count this travel time as part of your regular commute – particularly if you complete personal errands along the way. Similarly, any time you spend completing errands is considered “off duty” time and may interrupt your continuous workday. Of course, your employer does have to pay you for all the hours you work, and if your employer requires you to work from home for part of the day, this is not considered part of your regular commute.
Essentially, the more control you have over your workday and worksites, the less likely you are to be paid for travel time.
Disputes Over Time Worked
Unfortunately, some employers use the nuances of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to try and take advantage of employees, claiming that the employee was not working during on-duty time. If you ever lose pay while working for or following instructions from your employers, you have the right to file a complaint and collect those wages.
If your employer has a habit of not paying you for compensable travel time, we encourage you to speak to an attorney right away. Our team of attorneys at Donati Law, PLLC has been serving clients like you for more than 35 years. We are dedicated to the ethical practice of law, and our mission is to improve the lives of our clients – especially those who have been taken advantage of by unscrupulous employers.
For lawyers who treat you like family, look no further than our firm – call us at (901) 209-5500 or contact us online for prompt legal assistance.