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Determining what to pay and when to pay it can be confusing when it comes to employee travel time and expenses. Here are some tips to meet the compensable time requirements under Department of Labor regulations when employees are traveling plus guidance on expense reimbursement.

Compensable Travel Time During Work Hours includes:

  • Travel from job site to job site
  • If an employee stops on his/her way to work to pick up supplies, tools or equipment, or to perform work, the travel from that location to the office or other work location is compensable.

Commuting Time

Traveling to and from the office or other job site or work location at the beginning and end of the regular workday is not work time. This also applies when driving a company vehicle. This is not work time if the employee is simply commuting to and from home to a work site (their normal commuting area).

Travel for Special Assignment

When an employee who normally works in one location travels to another city or location, the travel time is compensable but an employer may subtract normal commuting time.

Overnight Travel

Travel away from home is compensable when it occurs during normal working hours. Compensable time includes not only hours worked on regular workdays during normal work hours, but also during the corresponding hours on non-work days. Passenger time outside of normal working hours is not compensable.

Work While Traveling

Work employees perform while traveling is compensable including phone calls and time spent checking/responding to emails.

Reimbursement of Business Travel Expenses

Generally, employers are not required to reimburse employees for business travel expenses unless there is a contract, agreement, or promise to do so. Employers should be consistent as practices of paying some employees and not others for business expenses could lead to discrimination claims.

For more information, please see Department of Labor’s “Fact Sheet #22: Hours Worked Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA),” which covers travel and other compensable time.