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Business travel and pay

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Q. We have asked one of our hourly (nonexempt) employees to attend a trade show in Las Vegas. He will be flying on Sunday and attending the trade show on Monday and Tuesday, and then returning Tuesday night on the “red eye.” Do we pay the employee for the hours he is traveling? What if he doesn’t come to work until 1 pm on Wednesday after flying all night?

A. The U.S. Labor Department has a specific policy with respect to travel time involving an overnight stay. Any time spent traveling during the hours the employee would normally work (even if those hours are on a weekend when the employee would not work) are considered hours worked. In your case, assuming that the employee was traveling from 1 to 6 pm (Michigan time) on Sunday, and the employee’s normal working hours are from 9 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday, you would pay the employee for four hours on Sunday (1 to 5 pm).
    Assuming the employee catches the red eye back at 11 pm Las Vegas time (2 am Michigan time) and gets home before work begins (9 am Michigan time), none of the travel hours would be considered hours worked. If the employee sleeps in and comes to work at 1 pm, he would not have any hours worked until he reported at 1 pm.
    Nothing would prevent the company, however, from paying the employee as if he had worked on Wednesday morning given the all-night flight.

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