How do we compensate for out-of-town seminar? — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

How do we compensate for out-of-town seminar?

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Q. How should we compensate an hourly employee for an out-of-town, two-day (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) seminar? In particular, should we pay for the hours during the overnight hotel stay, since the employee must sleep there to be ready for the next day’s session?

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, you must pay for hours worked. You don’t have to pay for hours spent sleeping or other free time, assuming the employee is free to use that time at his or her discretion.

Also, you don’t have to compensate an employee for travel time to a site to perform essential activities he or she was hired to perform, unless the travel cuts across the normal workday hours.

An exception to this general rule that time in transit is not compensable is if an employee is given a special or unusual one-day assignment in another city. However, normal, contemplated and mandated incidents of employment cannot be characterized as either special or unusual. Also, the infrequency of the off-site travel would not automatically make the travel special or unusual.

If this seminar would be classified as a normal or contemplated part of the employee’s job, then there would be no need to pay for the travel time unless that time cut across his or her normal working hours.

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