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Paying exempt employees for travel time

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Q. We sometimes send exempt employees to conferences. Do we have to pay for travel time? Can we voluntarily pay them extra if the travel time extends into the evening or weekend, or will that destroy their exempt status? — J.H., Connecticut

A. A truly exempt employee is someone who is paid a salary for all work during the workweek. That includes travel time. Your organization can choose to voluntarily provide extra “travel” or “away-from-home” pay or additional time- off at its discretion.

To prevent that extra compensation from harming an employee’s exempt status, it’s best to avoid linking the extra pay directly to extra hours. For example, give the employee a lump-sum bonus for his extra effort in attending the conference.    

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