New Focus HR Consultants frequently receive calls from employers asking the question, “Do I need to pay nonexempt employees for travel time?” The answer is confusing to most as it is “maybe?” The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) travel-time regulations include a provision that has confused employers, leading them to mistakenly think that they are not required to pay nonexempt employees for their time spent riding as passengers. However, in reality there are only a few times when this is actually the case. The only time that is not compensable under the FLSA for nonexempt employees travel time is as follows:
- Meal breaks of 20 minutes or longer during the travel time.
- Travel to overnight stays when it occurs outside of the employee’s normal work schedule, regardless of the day of the week, and when no work is being performed during traveling.
- An employee who usually works from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. does not have to be compensated for travel from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. unless he/she responded to work requests or performs other work during this time.
- Drivers must be paid for any driving done at the request of the employer. Therefore, all driving in a day’s work, whether traveling to another city for a one-day assignment, taking oneself or other workers to an overnight stay, or just driving around the area, must be paid. However, if the employee volunteers to drive others, his/her time for travel outside of the normal work hours doesn’t have to be paid.
- When an employee is traveling to an overnight stay and has the option of using public transportation, e.g. airplane, boat, bus, train, or automobile, the employer has a choice of whether to pay or not.
- The company may either pay for all of the time spent in travel or only the travel time that occurs during normal work hours, regardless of the day of the week when the travel occurs.
So, if you are still confused, please feel free to give us a call and we will help you to interpret the regulations with regards to each situation that you may encounter with nonexempt employees and travel-related situations. And, remember, some states have travel-time regulations that are more generous than the federal guidelines. If that is the case, then employers must follow both the state and federal requirements.
For additional information on this topic, please contact us at www.newfocushr.com.
Written by: Kristen Deutsch, M.B.A., CCP