Benefits and Compensation

Nonexempt Employee Travel Time: When Do You Have to Pay?


The rules on paying nonexempt employees for travel time can get pretty convoluted. BLR’s Employee Compensation in [Your State] explains them.


Yesterday’s article on topics relating to summer HR issues talked about the government’s rules relating to paying nonexempt employees on-call. We answered the question of whether you really have to pay an employee sitting around the pool at home, just on the chance he or she might be needed after hours. (Read yesterday’s article here.)


That led one of our readers to e-mail us a similar question about when nonexempt workers have to be paid for travel time. It’s pretty well known that hours spent routinely commuting to and from work are at the employees’ expense. But what about other travel situations?


For answers, we consulted what many consider the standard reference for compensation and benefit issues, BLR’s classic Employee Compensation in [Your State] program, published in 43 different state editions, as well as one for the District of Columbia. Here’s what the book had to say:



Know what to pay workers and keep your comp program legal with BLR’s Employee Compensation [in Your State]. Click to examine your state’s edition at no cost or risk.



–Normal travel to and from work is not compensable, and that includes travel to a central location to attend meetings or pick up supplies, as long as the employee has not yet performed a work activity for the day. Travel time once work begins is paid time.


–Travel time after hours is compensable if the employee has to travel a substantial distance to a site other than the normal workplace, say, to a customer location for an emergency repair. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division has not addressed whether emergency after-hours travel time to and from the regular workplace needs to be paid for, leaving it up to you to decide.


–Overnight travel away from home is paid time only when it “cuts across the employee’s workday,” says Employee Compensation in [Your State]. In other words, if the normal workday is 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and a worker flies during those hours, it’s paid time. But if the worker takes a 6 p.m. flight, it does not need to be paid. Travel time during normal working hours, by the way, must be paid even on a non-workday. If your employee normally works 9 to 5, Monday to Friday, but travels during those hours on Saturday, say, to a convention, you need to pay. At 6 p.m., however, you don’t. Is there convoluted thinking in Washington? As they say on cable TV news, “We report, you decide!”


Legal twists and turns like these are part of the reason thousands of employers keep their state’s version of Employee Compensation on their bookshelves to help them stay legal on any compensation issue, and why we recommend you do, too. First, though, take a no-cost, no-obligation look at it, as detailed in the offer below. You’ll find:


–Recommended rate ranges for hundreds of jobs, localized for your state and region. Based on annual surveys published by BLR and official data, Employee Compensation provides minimum, midpoint, and maximum rate ranges for both exempt and nonexempt positions, as paid in your state, region, and even city.


–A to Z state and federal law comparisons. Comp and benefits are regulated by a tangle of laws, like the ones on travel time outlined above. Employee Compensation offers an alphabetically arranged set of analyses on how these laws apply to common topics. Look up “ERISA” or “overtime pay” or “travel time,” as we did, and you instantly have a plain-English explanation of how the controlling laws apply to you.



Thousands depend on Employee Compensation in [Your State] to keep pay rates competitive and pay and benefit programs legal. See why with a no-risk trial. Click here.



–A full job descriptions program Employee Compensation offers a complete tutorial for setting up a job descriptions program. Many ADA-compliant sample descriptions are provided, ready to copy and use.


–Updating at no extra cost. The program price includes 6 updates a year (which others charge extra for), plus annual survey reports of exempt and nonexempt compensation and benefits, and a monthly newsletter on key compensation and benefits developments.


Click the links below and you can see samples of the program and newsletter, as well as a table of contents of what’s included.


The program is priced at the equivalent of about $1.50 a working day. That’s coffee money for just about every form of information most managers need to run a competitive and efficient program. Click the link below and request a no-cost trial. (We even pay return postage.) You may find it’s just what you’re looking for.


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Are You Overpaying Your Workforce?
To know, you need to see what local companies like yours are paying for the same jobs. Do it with your state’s edition of BLR’s classic reference, Employee Compensation in [Your State]. Examine it at no cost and no risk. Read more.