When must we pay for travel time? — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

When must we pay for travel time?

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Q. Some of our employees travel out of the country on business. We provide a per diem amount for meals, etc. Is there any requirement regarding when we must start the per diem clock ticking? For example, if someone leaves on a trip Friday afternoon and returns Monday morning, do we have to pay for four full days? — A.L., Missouri

A. Generally speaking, there are no wage-and-hour laws that require the payment of a per diem while traveling. But employers do often misunderstand the rules on compensating hourly workers for such travel.

The rules: Travel that keeps a nonexempt employee away from home overnight must be compensated at the employee’s regular hourly rate, but only when the travel time occurs during an employee’s normal workday.

Thus, if an hourly employee’s normal workday runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., only the out-of-town travel that occurs during those hours must be paid. This rule applies whether the travel occurs on a regular workday or a normal day off. So, if the same employee travels during regular work hours on a Sunday, but regularly has Sundays off, the time must still be paid.

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