Most employers know that they must pay their employees for hours worked, and that those hours must be paid as overtime for non-exempt employees if those “hours worked” exceed 40 per week. But calculating what, exactly, counts as “hours worked” for traveling employees can be a difficult task. Here are some tips on calculating travel pay for your non-exempt employees:
First, remember that employees must be compensated for “hours worked,” which is defined by the Fair Labor Standards Act as work which the employee was “suffered” or “permitted” to do. Generally speaking, this would include travel conducted for your practice’s benefit. You are, however, able to make some deductions when calculating the hours for which your non-exempt employee must be paid:
An employee does not have to be compensated for commute time from her home to your office or an alternate work site. So if your employee takes a one-day trip to another city on your behalf, you can deduct time spent traveling to the train station, airport, etc. The exception is if this commute time was actually spent working - all work time must be paid.
You can deduct mealtimes even during travel just as you would were the employee working in your office. But if the employee works through lunch, she must be paid for it.
Commute time outside of normal working hours
If your employee’s regular working hours are 9-5, and on this day she is traveling and working and the commute takes her until 6 to get home, then you do not have to compensate the employee for time spent commuting between 5-6. But the employee must be compensated for all time working and any time spent commuting between 9-5, even on weekends and holidays.
Don’t forget overtime
If any hours worked put the employee into an overtime schedule, she must be compensated accordingly.
The above rules are the minimums, based upon federal law. State law may be different. Please consult an employment law attorney or HR specialist if you have any specific questions as to how travel pay regulations may affect your practice.