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Mandatory doctor visits: Must you pay for the time?

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in FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources,Maternity Leave Laws

Q. We sometimes send our employees to our company doctor. Do we have to pay employees their hourly rates for their time? Also, are we responsible for any accidents that happen on the drive? —C.C., Arizona

A. Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, if your company requires an employee to see a medical professional, you must pay the employee for that time. This requirement includes travel time, waiting time and time spent actually receiving the examination or treatment. That requirement applies regardless of whether the medical visit occurs during or after normal working hours. 

Also, keep in mind that other federal and state laws may come into play. For example, the FMLA requires an employer to pay the employee’s reasonable “out of pocket” travel expenses if the employer requests a second or third medical opinion about the person’s FMLA certification. Check your own state’s wage-and-leave laws, which may have additional requirements.

Liability for traffic accidents? Regarding your second question, an employer is liable in most states for accidents that occur while the employee is acting “within the scope of his or her employment.” Making the determination of whether the employee is acting within the scope of employment is a very fact-specific analysis and will depend on your state’s laws.

One important question: Why is the employee driving at all? If the employee is driving to the doctor after having an on-the-job accident (whether the person appears injured or not) or if he or she is feeling sick or appears “under the influence,” we strongly recommend that you not let the employee drive. Instead, call a taxi or have a responsible adult drive the employee to and from the doctor (and then home, if necessary).

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