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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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{ 61 comments… read them below or add one }

Steve Clark May 15, 2017 at 6:40 pm

I have to go to the shop every morning and work for 20 minutes loading trucks. Then I take a work truck for an hour drive to the work site. I am told I am not paid for this travel time. But if I were to stay and work at the shop, i would be paid for that hour. Is this right?

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Steve May 11, 2017 at 7:06 am

I am an employee for a painting company. I travel to and from job sites everyday and certain days I need to stop by paint store to grab paint and supplies for the company. Should the company have to pay me for this travel time? Especially when I am picking up supplies for there jobs. I also travel at times between an hour and a half to two hours certain days in my own vehicle.

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Sue May 3, 2017 at 3:53 pm

Company are refusing to pay mileage when sending me on business trip, saying that I have to deduct my commute miles first then they will pay be remaing mileage, its 100 mile round trip to work, but they want me to travel elsewhere in the country so it is easier to leave from home, surely this is business miles and not commute miles but it seems I have to pay, seems unfair?

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Gary April 18, 2017 at 12:13 am

I work for company that does trade shows, sometimes the are a distance.2 questions. First, if i am driving a company vehicle with company equipment to the trade show, should I be compensated for that travel time. My employer say that is merely commuting and that I should not be on the clock. What if I am a passenger with another driver, should I be compensated for the travel time to the trade show? One other scenario, If on the previous day, I loaded equipment from my employer in my personal car, drove home and then drove from home to a trade show with the company’s equipment should should I be paid for that travel time. Finally what if I travel to my employer. pick up the equipment and then go to the trade show. What if any travel time should I be compensated for?

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Eric April 13, 2017 at 12:48 am

I am a salaried employee that works under tech department supporting sales for half the country. Often times I leave late Monday afternoon/evening to work various markets all day Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday returning late in the evening. Hourly laws do not apply as I am salaried, but how should I consider time worked? I am gone from home most weeks for almost four full days but only have meetings 3 days per week 8-4. Rest of week entails, e mail,phone calls, scheduling, etc. If your total acutal working hours are around 40 per week but your consistantly away from home four days straight, how should the compensation be considered for the working hours and how should it be considered for the down time hours? Out of town while not working should be considered some form of work as I do not have the freedom to be with family, play sports etc? I believe my company considers the amount of travel with the accepted salried package, but am not sure if all the hours in justify the income. Any thoughts and veiwpoints are appreciated!

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James April 10, 2017 at 7:49 pm

I drive to the office/shop every morning in personal vehicle. Then get in company vehicle @ 8:30 and drive to jobsite, approx 45 min away. My employer stops paying when I leave jobsite around 4:30pm still with company vehicle and 45 min commute back to office/shop. Is this legal?

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Pamela May 7, 2017 at 11:02 pm

No. I believe under the FLSA its considered “All in a days work” and is compensable.
§ 785.38 Travel that is all in the day’s work. Time spent by an employee in travel as part of his principal activity, such as travel from job site to job site during the workday, must be counted as hours worked. Where an employee is required to report at a meeting place to receive instructions or to perform other work there, or to pick up and to carry tools, the travel from the designated place to the work place is part of the day’s work, and must be counted as hours worked regardless of contract, custom, or practice. If an employee normally finishes his work on the premises at 5 p.m. and is sent to another job which he finishes at 8 p.m. and is required to return to his employer’s premises arriving at 9 p.m., all of the time is working time. However, if the employee goes home instead of returning to his employer’s premises, the travel after 8 p.m. is home-to-work travel and is not hours worked. ( Walling v. Mid-Continent Pipe Line Co., 143 F. 2d 308 (C. A. 10, 1944))

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James Justice April 10, 2017 at 7:49 pm

I drive to the office/shop every morning in personal vehicle. Then get in company vehicle @ 8:30 and drive to jobsite, approx 45 min away. My employer stops paying when I leave jobsite around 4:30pm still with company vehicle and 45 min commute back to office/shop. Is this legal?

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Tony April 1, 2017 at 11:36 am

I drive a company service van with GPS tracking. I am aware and understand that I don’t get paid for my drive to and from the various locations that I am dispatched to each day for work as I drive the company van home each night. The company has just recently ordered each service technician to “dispatch” themselves when they are on their way to a job- making the route they are driving and the arrival time (in addition to any personal stops while off the clock) available to both customers and to the company, however the company still does not want to pay for the commute now that we are being tracked by the customers. I emailed my boss to clarify that I would like to clock in while being tracked and after being dispatched via gps tracking, and he disallowed me from clocking in and said that if I don’t want to dispatch myself, he will automatically dispatch me while I am driving whether or not I want to be tracked and that I will not be paid for this time that I am being monitored. My commute is anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours, so the hourly wages would vary. I am located in California and am concerned that this is an invasion of my privacy since I am not clocked in. There doesn’t seem to be much precedent for this so I am reaching out. Thanks for any help.

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Jack hyde March 22, 2017 at 9:25 pm

I work for a plumbing company the company has given me a company truck that I can not drive on personal time for obvious reasons gas etc. So my question is that my commute from my house in Maryland to Washington dc is a half hour to and hour and a half to first job or supply house where my time starts and I don’t get paid for hour and a half to two hour commute home in city traffic should those times not be compensated and what should I do for help if so also I stay on call and get calls in to work after hours and on weekends and the company I work for charges customer time and a half for those hours should I not be compensated the same way for those hours instead I get only a four hr minimum reg time and only ot time if I happened to make over 40 that week

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Tom March 16, 2017 at 4:48 pm

I work for a construction company in Pa. We have company vehicles that we use for commuting to and from home and worksites. I understand that I am not supposed to be paid my travel time from home to job site or office. However if in the morning I need to go my shop to pick up tools, should that time from the office until I leave the job site at the end of the day not be paid? Example: we work 7am to 3:30 pm. My shop opens at 6 am and I am required to be on site at 7 am. I need to pick up tools I dont always carry due to space restrictions or supplies that I have run out of that are deemed nessacary to complete the days tasks. I arrive at the shop at 6:15am load materials etc and be on the site by 7 am to start work on time. I finish my Job promptly at 3:30 and drive home. Should my time be paid from 6:15am to 3:30 pm? One last thing…if I am required to attend a weekly meeting at 6am one set day every week at the shop and then report to the job site by 7am, should that not also be compensated time? The meeting is work related topics and material and is mandatory. Workers gave been fired for not attending Thanks.

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Leigh March 16, 2017 at 8:15 am

My employer allows me to drive company van home every night. There is no shop for me to report to. He emails me my schedule at the end of everyday and I go straight to the first service. Is he required to pay my travel to the first job and then the time to get home?

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Paul Richard Crook March 1, 2017 at 1:08 pm

I work as an HVAC installer I have to report to the shop in the morning I realized it commute from my house to the shop in the morning is non compensated when I get to work I have to unload and load our company truck make sure all the stock is there and then get in work truck with my mechanic and drive out to the jobs they are telling me now that I have to clock out at the job site at the end of the day even though I have to ride back to the shop to get my personal vehicle my mechanic take the work truck home with him but has to drop me back off to get my personal vehicle are they allowed to do that we both have to clock out at the job site at the end of the day

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Travis March 16, 2017 at 3:53 am

any time you are in a company vehicle going to the job or coming from the job they have to you pay you.Because: ( God forbid you are in a accident in the company vehicle and your NOT on the clock in other words the company will make sure your on the clock if that happens) NOW: when the driver drops you off at your car he has to get off the clock even if he’s driving the truck home the reason for this is that he is using the truck for his own personal use. He can NOT be paid for this.

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Jane January 20, 2017 at 4:42 pm

I travel to my job. I am made to clock in. Then several of us get in a van to travel to the job where our trucks are “stored.” Do they have to pay me? Company says they don’t but we have to clock in to be covered by insurance on the vehicle.

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Travis March 16, 2017 at 4:04 am

The time you clock in you are to be paid. As long as you allow them to believe that you don’t know the law they will continue to stiff you and everyone else.

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Rally January 1, 2017 at 3:02 pm

I am a direct employee for a company that works as a contractor for a cable company. I drive into our office in the morning and go out to the job, sometimes its a hour and half drive there. Then when im done i drive straight home. All of this using a company vehicle

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Travis March 16, 2017 at 4:11 am

They don’t have to pay you because the law stats if they allow you to drive that vehicle to and from your home you using it as your personal use for that you can’t be paid.

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Noel December 7, 2016 at 7:39 am

Ok here is my problem .. I work as a contractor for a company they send me on the road all the time I use my own viechel and put over a thousand miles on my car each week. They said we only get travel pay when we travel outside the 45 mile or it take over 45 min to get there from our office . Now here is where the problem I have lies when we are on the road And in the hotel they take the first 45 min or miles from the hotel to store. Sometimes it works out the store is 44min away or 44 miles I loose 90 miles and 1and a half hours each day and I am usually hundreds of miles from. Home . Shouldn’t the only be able to deduct that 45 min and or milage on the start of the travel and on the end of it but should pay all the Additional travel for the days we Are staying in hotel. I have lost 4000 dollars or more this quarter in pay and milage because I loose 6 to 7 hours in drivetime a week and 300 to 400 miles and I am always I. Overtime so that hourly rate is quite a loss alone. One branch paid us for all that time but when I transferd branches the other went to the rip me off way this is a large company and because they paid us without the additional deduction on the road at one branch and then did at the other I raised my hand they will not produce any written documentation showing a standard guideline and I am at the point of seeking a lawyer to help me this also doesn’t just affect me but a large workforce and many employees . I just want to be paid correctly can anyone please help me or point me to someone who can

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Travis March 16, 2017 at 4:24 am

You need to call the labor board ASAP. Tell them everything don’t leave anything out not even the name of the company.

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Jerry November 30, 2016 at 1:02 pm

I work construction in Pennsylvania. I drive all over the east coast and my company does not pay me for my drive time home even when I’m 20 hours away , so that’s 20 hours of time not compensated. They also don’t allow a 20$ per-diem if it’s not a full 24 hr workday.

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Travis March 16, 2017 at 4:48 am

If you’re 100 miles or 24hr. Away from home you have to be paid per diem. Also if your driving the company vehicle to and from home they don’t have to pay you but if your driving from home in your own car then you get in the company vehicle then and only then must they start your pay. Call someone at the labor board to find out more.

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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?

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Travis March 16, 2017 at 5:07 am

Your time should never change because your still on the clock, but you need to keep a note of it anytime this happens. Remember where ever whatever whenever they ask you to do you should be still getting paid. But Don’t mix any of your business with work such as paying your bills etc.

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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.

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Travis March 16, 2017 at 5:13 am

(G) LoL etc. Listen if they pay you one way they have to pay you both ways. If you need to call the labor board and they will tell you the same thing.

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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

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Travis March 16, 2017 at 5:20 am

Call the labor board.

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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.

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Travis March 16, 2017 at 5:20 am

Call the labor board.

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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?

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Travis March 16, 2017 at 5:19 am

Call the labor board.

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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

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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?

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Travis March 16, 2017 at 5:22 am

Yes

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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daniel August 24, 2016 at 1:06 am

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

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Travis March 16, 2017 at 5:26 am

Only in the company vehicle

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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!!!

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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?

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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?

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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?

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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..

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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.

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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?

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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?

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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.

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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?

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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?

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John January 3, 2014 at 8:29 pm

Janet,

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.

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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.

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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

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John January 3, 2014 at 8:32 pm

PD,

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.

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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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