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Travel, commuting time: When must employers pay?

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in Centerpiece,Compensation and Benefits,Human Resources

Determining when and how much to pay employees for their travel and commuting time is a complex subject, governed by Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regulations.

Employers need to know what is considered working time when employees are traveling; how to deal with weekend time that may combine business and personal travel; and how to handle requests for travel reimbursements when company vehicles are used for "commuting."

1. If an employee travels on company business outside of his/her regular work hours, is that time considered "working" time?

Depending on the circumstances, employees may, indeed, be entitled to compensation for that time. Whether employees' travel time must be counted as hours worked hinges on the kind of travel involved:

  • Commuting: Employees who travel to and from their homes to work are commuting, which isn't working time. The same rule applies even if the worksite changes every day.
  • Trav...(register to read more)

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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Kassie October 19, 2016 at 12:33 am

I am an office manager/ billing specialist. I keep track of my own hours. My boss asked me to go to the store to pick up some folders for the office. Should I keep track of my time for traveling to the store, buying/shopping for the folders, and my drive back?


Engineer October 12, 2016 at 9:53 pm

My employer feels as if they don’t have to pay for the ride to and from the job in the company vehicle if you’re not driving. Now they are willing to pay me one way and not both ways. This is in the state of Louisiana.


Charlotte October 6, 2016 at 7:40 pm

I was hired to be a General Manager for a Fast Food Restaurant. The training was 5 weeks long. I had to drive 2 hours to the training restaurant and two hours home every day after working ten hour shifts (50 hours a week). I was wondering was that legal or should they have paid me for mileage or gas? I live in Mississippi


Mary October 1, 2016 at 7:57 am

My employer is sending me out of town for a conference. I am being told that I am required to have 8 hour minimum days at the conference but will only be paid for the hours I am in session. For instance, a class could go from 8-930 then 11-1230 then 1-3:30 then 4-5. I am being told I will not get paid for the gaps in between even though I will be at the conference center just waiting for my next session. I’m wondering if that is correct? Does anyone know? Thanks so much.


Vlad August 19, 2016 at 7:37 pm

Company have got a new contract in the same town and sent me to customer site to perform a project works. Now, I drive every day from home tocustomer working site.
Employer charge a customer the distance from office to working site (50 km ) in expenses to MY NAME (?????) , but refuse to pay my expenses because distance between my home and customer site less (18 km) that between home and office (35 km)
1. Does Employer have to pay travel time from home to working site and back?
2. Does employer have to pay a mileage from home to customer site (and back) when employee uses a personal car for company business?


Josh July 28, 2016 at 10:07 am

If your employer requires you stay out of town at a hotel does the pay time start from the time you get into the vehicle or when you reach the jobsite? I work out of town my office is located in north carolina


Jody May 21, 2016 at 4:43 pm

I leave my home every day in my vehicle to head out to a different job site. My employer does not pay my time of loading my car with supplies and heading to the 1st site. I think the time and mileage should be paid by the employer. Yes or No?


Elizabeth April 19, 2016 at 10:13 am

My employees clock in at one post on the job site, then one of them must travel to another post, 1/2 mile from clock-in post, for duty. Both posts are part of the same job site. Parking lots are provided at both posts for parking vehicles.
If I ask my employees to use his/her personal vehicle to drive this 1/2 mile (on company time–as they would have already clocked in), am I required to pay them any additional money for use of their personal vehicle for this short distance?
Thank you.


Barbara June 23, 2016 at 12:23 am

Yes, at least in California you are required to pay mileage and in 2016 the rate is .54 cents per mile.


Ms pee March 25, 2016 at 6:12 pm

If a person work for a flower company and you drive their van. Is it right for the employee to pay for gas? if you drive you car, the pay $10.00 for each arrangement, but if you drive they van, the want you to buy the gas and the pay you $8.00 for each arrangement. It that legal?


Tri Mai March 4, 2016 at 12:20 pm

I have a few questions regarding to the traveling time payment for employee.
1. Employer has to pay driving time for employee traveling from job site to job site either personal vehicle or company vehicle. Is that correct?
2. How about the passengers who travel together with the drivers from job site to job site. Do they get paid for traveling time as well?

Thank you.


Barbara June 23, 2016 at 12:27 am

Yes, if they passenger is an employee then he or she is still on the clock when they are traveling from site to site just like the driver. In California if the driver is using his or hers personal vehicle then the employer must also pay for mileage and in 2016 the rate is .54 cents per mile.


daniel August 24, 2016 at 1:06 am

I understand milage but what if employer gives a car allowance instead is that legal?


nancy February 18, 2016 at 8:45 am

i clean houses. i have to go 15 min earlier then everyone else to load the van in the morning at office. then drive everyone to our 1st job. i dont get clocked in until were at the1st job. then at the end off the day the clock stops when were finished the last house. after that i still have to bring everyone back to office and unload vehicle and check in with owner. i dont find it fair to not pay me but are they aloud to have me work n be a driver without being on the books? at the end of each week i lose atleast 8-10 hours on a slow week in hours i dont get paid for!!!


Kristen January 9, 2016 at 1:19 pm

Recently, there has been some city construction taking place right outside my workplace. I work for a hotel, and when our occupancy reaches over 75% capacity, employees are not allowed to park on property. Now, with the construction happening, we can not even park right outside our hotel, and are being forced to have to park quite a distance away from our job, making us have to walk sometimes a half an hour to work. Should we employees be getting compensated for the time we have to walk to work from the areas we are being forced to park?


Julie October 6, 2015 at 12:17 pm

My husband works for a plumbing contractor. He is a foreman and therefor gets transportation to job sites. Most of their jobs are with in the surrounding area of the office. Most employees go straight to the job sites from home to be there at a specific time. However there are times when they have jobs out of town, meaning 30 minutes to an hour to get there either from their homes or even the shop. His employer believes he should not provide company transportation nor help in reimbursing gas mileage. Is this legal?


Janet Bott July 2, 2015 at 2:04 pm

My husband has a company van and has to go direct to different places of work on a daily basis his company are now introducing a rule by where they will not pay the first 45 minutes of work as they are calling this ordinary commuting time is this correct? The example he has been given is that if his first place of work is 1 hour 45 mins to get to then he does not start to get paid until he starts his first job, then if he starts at 9 am he is required to work to 7 pm and then if he returns home taking him 2 hours 45 mins he will get 3 hours if approve overtime? What?


og May 21, 2015 at 1:34 pm

Me and two others were told by the staffing agancy we wont going to be paid a job by the main company that asked for help. We were told to go to this job that was 4 hours out of our way to get to from sacrmento. Once we got there we were told 1 hour later that we arent needed, and sorry for the whole drive there. We had to drive 4 hours back to sacramento but we were told we were going to get remibursed the gas money and still get paid the 6 hours for just going all the way out there. our boss says that the company was saying they arent going to pay us. (we were told later by a guy who worked with that comany that they were going to pay us the full 8 hours to us 3). Then our boss said he would pay out of his own pocket the money that was/is owed to us.. which he only gave us $75. nothing more. Need some advise we are going to filling a claims report on them now (our company the staffing agancy), for holding money that is due to us. I believe they are lying and making bank off of us..


Alice February 10, 2014 at 10:07 am

I am a employee of a company that requires me to work from my home and do calls to peoples homes for my job. Some of those calls can be more than 2 hours away. When does my company have to start paying my mileage? I do not work from any other office only my home.


lee November 12, 2013 at 10:46 am

My job requires that i stay in a hotel all year. We have always been paid from the time we got into the company car to the area of the city we are working in. My workplace is the company vehicle. We do not get out. The company has recently hired temporary drivers who are getting paid from the time they meet us at the hotel and get into the company car to drive us. After 10 years of doing business this way they now say we are not getting paid till we get to the first building information that we enter into our computer. Do they still have to pay us from the time we get into the car?


Jimmy September 27, 2013 at 2:30 pm

I am going with my company to Las Vegas for four days. My question is how much money should my company give me per day for meals etc? Is there a law that they should give me some kind of amount each day?


Karen August 19, 2013 at 10:54 pm

If an employer makes you travel 45 mins from one facility to another to work. Does the employer have to pay the employee during this travel time. This is a medical field job. Employee was hired to work in one location and now be forced to go to another facility that is 45 mins away from home facility.


Kathleen July 17, 2013 at 12:45 pm

Can an employer require employees to drive a company car and pay for gasoline, instead of their own personal car?


janet June 16, 2013 at 2:43 pm

According to FLSA commute time for an employee with an employer vehicle from his/her home to first worksite in NOT considered paid travel time. However, lets look at the other issue at hand, what about an employee that has to commute to a location where the employer vehicle is located at that the employer provides for over night parking?


Cathy May 17, 2013 at 3:26 pm

I drive a company car. My office is my home. i am a filed auto adjuster and travel to locations to insepct vehicles. Is the time from my home office to my first assignment considered commute time? Are the miles considered commute time? I may travel 2 hours or 30 minutes to the first claim.


ted February 21, 2013 at 10:28 pm

Can an employer make you take a company truck home so they don’t have to pay drive time to first job and back after last job. I also haveto log in on a laptop to dispatch myself on job tickets in the morning and get job locations and details. I only live 15 min from office.


janet June 16, 2013 at 2:33 pm

I’m in the same situation as yourself with the travel time from home to work, work to home in company vehicle. Did you get any answers?


John January 3, 2014 at 8:29 pm


The answer to that question is “no”. If an employer requires you to drive a company vehicle (regardless of their reasoning), they are setting themselves up for compensating your drive time.

Do you live in CA? If so, I can probably help you out.


Danielle M December 12, 2012 at 11:06 pm

If I’m an hourly employee driving a company truck to the plant where I load for the day, do I get paid from my house to the plant? If not what would happen if I got into an accident in a company truck? Southern California is where I’m located.


Painterdude July 27, 2012 at 5:40 pm

I am a painting contractor in Auberry Ca. and some of my employees drive to the shop and catch a ride in one of the work trucks so they dont have to drive there own vehicle to the job site. Am i required to pay them travel time?Also I have two emplyees that drive work trucks from the shop to the job site and back. They dont load anything they just drive my trucks. Do I have to pay then travel time ? Our job site locations change daily or weekly. Most job sites are within half an hour.
Thank you Pd


John January 3, 2014 at 8:32 pm


If you have employees drive company vehicles to/from job sites from your shop, then you most definitely have to pay for their drive time.

The employees who meet at your office together and then basically carpool to the job site, most likely not.


kansi June 25, 2012 at 8:07 am

This article is very informational, but what about the circumstance where an employee meets at an ‘agreeable’ location (that is not the office) and gets a ride in the company truck to the jobsite? Our jobsites change weekly and sometimes are 2 hours away from the office. If an employee’s home is ‘on the way’, we offer to pick them up at an accessible location (ie park-and-ride) so they don’t have to pay for the extra gas/car maintenance to get to that jobsite. In which category would that fall? Thank you.


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