Know When to Pay for Travel Time: Rules for Travel
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April 8, 2019

1. Home to Work Travel

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), regular travel from an employee’s home to the workplace doesn’t count as time worked – unless the employee actually performs work that will benefit the business during this commute. It doesn’t matter whether the employee goes to a central office or to a client location from their home. It is not considered travel time to be paid, no matter how long the commute is for the employee.

2. From Work to a Client’s Office or Other Location

Once an employee arrives at the office, any travel time to another location to work is time worked and must be paid. You must count travel that is a regular part of the worker’s daily duties as hours worked under the FLSA.

3. Traveling on a Day Trip

Typically, all travel time on day trips is counted, except for meal periods. If the employee travels to another city or job location assignment, the travel time is paid time. However, just like the travel from home to work isn’t paid, the time that an employee travels from their home to the train station or airport isn’t paid time because it falls under the #1 rule above. This is true even if the travel to the airport is longer than the regular commute to the office.

What about a non-exempt employee who travels during the work day? Let’s consider a non-exempt employee leaves home at 6:00 am to get to the airport. Normal work hours are 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. The employee gets on the flight and gets to the destination about 9:00 am. The first meeting starts at 9:00 am and lasts until 4:00 pm. The employee books a later flight so he can visit with friends and travels back to the airport via taxi to catch a 7:00 pm flight that arrives at 8:30 pm. He drives home about an hour from the airport. So…how much time do you have to pay?

  • You do not have to pay from home to the airport – home to work commute.
  • You do have to pay for the time spent traveling on the plane and in the taxi to the meeting.
  • You do have to pay for the time spent in the meeting.
  • You do not have to pay for the time spent visiting with friends – it was his decision to do this.
  • You do have to pay for the time spent on the plane and the taxi ride.
  • You do not have to pay for the ride from the airport to the home destination.

If the non-exempt employee is on an out-of-town business trip that requires an overnight stay, you count all travel time during what would be his normal working hours no matter what day of the week including weekends.

Carol Kardas

Carol Kardas


With 25+ years of generalist HR experience, Carol's focus includes compensation, training, and employee relations. She has advanced HR certifications: SPHR, CCP, SHRM-SCP.


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