Should we pay nonexempt employees for voluntarily running office errands before work?

Q. Because our office is in a residential area, mail isn’t delivered until the late afternoon. One of our secretaries volunteered to pick up the mail at the post office on her way to work every day. It’s not too far out of the way, but it does change her regular route to work. Are we required to reimburse her for the additional time, as well as mileage?

A. The time the employee spends beyond her normal commute time would be considered off-the-clock work that is compensable, even though the employee volunteered to go to the post office, because the company is benefiting from this business-related errand.

There is no requirement in Pennsylvania that private employers must pay employee mileage expenses when employees use their own vehicles for business travel, but you may choose to do so for employee-relations reasons.