Travel time that constitutes work time must be compensated as such, according to the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Time that an employee spends traveling as part of his or her principal activity, such as travel from job site to job site during the workday, must be counted as hours worked. When an employee is required to report at a meeting place to receive instructions, pick up tools, or to perform other work there, the travel from the designated place to the workplace is part of the day’s work and must be counted as hours worked.
Travel that keeps an employee away from home overnight is designated as “travel away from home” by the Wage and Hour Division. Travel away from home is paid work time when it “cuts across the employee’s normal workday.” This is because the employee is deemed to be simply substituting travel for other duties. The time is not only hours worked on regular workdays during normal work hours, but also during the corresponding hours on non-work days. The Wage and Hour Division, however, does not consider time spent in travel away from home outside of regular working hours as passenger on a plane, train, boat, bus, or car as paid time.
Based on an employee’s regular work schedule (e.g., 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., or 12:00 noon to 8 p.m.) from Monday through Friday, the travel time during these hours is work time on Saturday and Sunday as well as on the other days. Regular meal period time is not counted as work time. For example, if an employee who normally works 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday is a passenger on a plane departing at 9 a.m. on a Saturday, the time spent traveling is work time because it cuts across the normal working hours. It does not matter that Saturday is not a normal workday. However, if the plane departed at 6 p.m. instead, the travel time would not be counted as paid work time because the employee would be traveling outside of normal working hours.
Any work that an employee is required to perform while traveling must, of course, be counted as hours worked. An employee who drives a truck, bus, or car, or an employee who is required to ride as an assistant or helper, is working while riding.
Questions concerning travel time should be discussed with the supervisor who should consult with the Office of Human Resources as needed. Assistance is available to review work time and travel time, identify compensable time and provide guidance in completion of the time report to ensure compliance with Department of Labor regulations.