Travel Time: To Pay or Not to Pay
March 13, 2017
Do I have to pay my workers for travel time when I provide transportation to a job site?
Slate Rock and Gravel, Inc. has a reputation for completing jobs on time and under budget. For their convenience, employees often report to the yard at 5:15 a.m. and then travel to the construction site in company trucks loaded with tools. They always arrive before the construction site opens at 7:00 am, and leave together when the whistle blows at 3:30 pm. Most days, the truck returns to the yard just before 5:00 pm. Some employees choose to meet the Slate Rock and Gravel foreman at the site. Recently, Fred, a longtime employee, started complaining that Slate Rock and Gravel had cheated him out of overtime. Fred claims the company owes him (and all the other employees) for time spent traveling from the yard to the jobsite and the jobsite back to the yard. Does Slate Rock and Gravel have a problem?
Probably not. Time spent travelling from home to work before the regular workday is generally not considered compensable work time. Even an employee who travels in an employer-provided vehicle, transporting work equipment is engaged in ordinary home to work travel. 29 C.F.R. §785.35. Fred and his coworkers are meeting at the yard for their own convenience and benefit, not because they are directed to do so by their employer. On the other hand, if Fred and his co-workers were required to report to the yard to receive instructions or perform other work there, travel time to the job site would likely be viewed as part of their principal activities, i.e., “travel that is all in a day’s work.” 29 C.F.R. §785.38. The same is true of travel time back to Slate Rock and Gravel’s yard at the end of the day.
Practice Tip: Make sure you inform employees, in writing, that they are not required to report to the yard or travel to and from job sites in the company vehicle.