An employer must understand how the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) treats travel time as work time. This can be tricky when an employee drives to a different location than their regular work site before or after clocking out because it can be challenging to determine when they begin and end their work day. Take a look at this article to learn about the FLSA travel time rules so you can calculate and pay your employees correctly.
What Is Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Travel Time?
The FLSA is a federal law that sets the minimum wage, overtime pay, requirements for keeping records, work counted as hours work and other rules for all U.S. workers. When they exceed 40 hours per week, employees who are not exempt from overtime pay are owed extra money.
The FLSA travel time standard may apply when employees travel as part of their job, and there is no suitable workplace nearby. For example, if an employee travels on business to meet with clients at a client’s location on their way home from work, there may be legal compensation-related implications.
Similarly, if an employee works in one town, but lives in another city where the company doesn’t have any offices, it would be considered FLSA Travel Time because the employee has traveled as part of their job responsibilities.
Covered Travel Time
The FLSA defines hours worked as the time an employee is working, including work time spent traveling. This means that travel time is also compensated, in addition to hours spent at the office.
That said, there are limitations to what type of travel is covered. For example, commuting from home to work and back does not qualify as travel for FLSA. Other types of travel covered by FLSA include train rides, bus rides, carpools, and drives or flights between sites.
Additionally, no federal laws require employers to pay for lodging or meals during travel. For example, if your trip requires you to stay overnight in a hotel, your employer doesn’t have to pay for your room and food. In that case, you’ll need to use vacation or personal time if you want time off from work.
Similarly, some employees may be required to supply their transportation to business meetings. For instance, if an employee buys or leases a car or vehicle solely for company business use (for example, traveling salespeople), then an employer does not have to reimburse their mileage expenses under FLSA guidelines unless otherwise stated in a formal agreement between employer and employee.
As you can see, there’s a bit of a gray area regarding FLSA travel time. If you’re unsure if your travel is covered, talk with your employer, and ask what guidelines they use.
When in doubt, look up your company’s state and federal labor boards—they might have specific policies on travel time compensation that will clarify whether or not it is required or allowed under FLSA regulations.
How To Calculate Travel Time?
In most cases, travel time is compensable because it extends the employee’s workday. The issue then becomes how to calculate travel time. First, you’ll need to figure out what counts as a day.
If you’re someone who shows up at 8:00 am and leaves at 5:00 pm, you probably have a standard 9-hour day. If you drove 45 minutes one way to the job site and were in meetings for 3 hours before lunch, your day would be 10 hours long with 3 hours of non-compensable travel time (45 minutes each way).
Your day would then be counted as 10 hours because that’s what you have worked on that day.. You might also need to calculate things such as getting ready in the morning, commuting from home to work, getting ready for bed after work, or anything else that falls outside your regular working hours.
If you take off two days per week and have a 12-hour day on those days, but only average about 6 hours on all other days, your average day length will be about 8 hours. That means if you had 2 hours of non-compensable travel time from point A to point B on any given workday, it would still count as only 4 hours since there are only six total actual working hours.
Tips On Documenting Travel Time
Using the FLSA regulations, you must keep track of all time spent on work-related tasks. The following tips will help ensure that travel time is documented correctly.
- Keep a log of all travel time – write down the date, location, and reason for traveling.
- Include the hours spent on each task – if your travel includes multiple missions, write down how long you do each mission.
- Report as exempt from overtime when necessary – if your job classification is exempt from overtime pay (meaning that it falls under a specific exemption in FLSA), report as exempt when filling out paperwork or creating reports.
- Keep mileage records – whenever possible, maintain records of mileage driven during the day, and include start and stop odometer readings. For example, if you went 15 miles to the office, but took a 10-minute break along the way, then use 5 miles as your total trip distance.
- Add all overtime hours and include them in weekly totals – this helps ensure that employees are not reporting inaccurate information to avoid paying overtime wages.
- Make an extra effort when traveling abroad – while there are no legal requirements for travel time outside of U.S. borders, it is essential to document your activities carefully because they may come into question should an investigation occur at some point in the future.
The Fair Labor Standards Act Protects You
Although travel time is not considered normal working hours, as noted above, you have a right to be paid for that time.
The United States Government has a wage and hour division that enforces the law. Employers are required to pay employees for all time worked, not just what they consider normal working hours.
You can always look up more information on federal government websites. But if you’re looking for more specific information about your situation quickly, you can always learn more on our website or contact us for a consultation.
Many people are surprised that FLSA may require employers to count hours worked during travel time. As claimed by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), working hours include any time an employee is expected to be present at the workplace or any other place designated by the employer.
This includes waiting for time, breaks, and travel, which is part of the job. All in all, it’s essential to understand your company’s policies regarding overtime pay before you begin traveling for business.