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Beware how schedules can affect whether commuting time is compensable

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in Compensation and Benefits,Human Resources

Do your workers set their own schedules and travel to client locations during their workday? If so, be aware that how they manage their workdays may affect whether their “commute time” to their first stop of the day and back from their last stop is compensable.

Tell your workers that they should flexibly schedule their administrative tasks to fit into their workday—not as the first or last thing they do each day.

Recent case: Lindsey was required to use her automobile to travel to patient homes. She assisted mentally ill and elderly clients with everyday tasks such as budgeting, errands and medical appointments.

She carried client files and paperwork with her and left home each morning, heading directly to the first appointment. Her supervisors expected her to spend five to eight hours per week on administrative tasks.

Lindsey quit and sued, alleging that she should have been paid overtime for her commuting time. She argued that she always began her administrative tasks first thing in the morning and finished them last thing at the end. That, she argued, converted her commute time to paid time.

The court disagreed, largely because her employer didn’t require her to perform administrative tasks at beginning and end; she could perform them any time of day. And that, the court concluded, meant her commuting time to first appointment and back from last appointment did not have to be paid time. (Richard v. Hennepin Home Health Care, No. 15-CV-3224, DC MN, 2016)

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