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Pay workers for travel time when you control their travel

by on
in Human Resources

Royal Packing Co. required its agricultural employees to travel to and from the fields each day on company-provided buses. Employees met each morning at a specified departure point. The buses would pick them up and return them each day to that spot. Employees weren't allowed to travel to the work site on their own.

Royal did not pay employees for the travel time because, it said, employees weren't required to work while on the bus.

But California's supreme court ruled that, because Royal controlled the travel time, it must pay for that time under state wage law. (Morillion v. Royal Packing Co., S073725, Cal. Sup. Ct., 2000)

Advice: Under federal law, regular travel time to and from work isn't considered "work time" unless the employee does work along the way.

But traditionally, when an employer controls an employee's activity, regardless of whether any substantive work is accomplished, the employer will be liable for the employee's normal wage and any overtime that might accrue.

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