In many industries, it is common for employers to send employees on trips to perform work related tasks. At the same time, many employers are unaware of the nuances involved with work-related travel expenses, and when employees should be compensated accordingly. Below are some guidelines that employers should take into consideration when sending their employees on trips which incurs work-related travel expenses.
When Should Employees Be Compensated For Travel?
When an employee travels from one work location to another, such as to perform maintenance or other services, they should be compensated. Likewise, whenever an employee takes a one day trip to a city to perform work and then return, these counts as work hours and they should be paid. For overnight trips which are done on behalf of the company, the time the employee spends traveling beyond their normal work hours also counts as paid time(regardless of the day of the week in which the trip is made).
When Should Employees Not Be Compensated For Travel?
Employers are not required to compensate their employees for time which is spent commuting from work to home, or vice versa. This is true irrespective of how far the employee lives from the worksite. Any trips which are considered a part of a worker’s standard travel time should be unpaid.
When it comes to work related travel it is important for employers to familiarize themselves with federal and state laws. The regulations for one state can differ from another so this should be taken into consideration. In most cases its best for employers to offer their workers the most generous travel policy possible. It is also a necessity for employers to carefully monitor the hours that their employees work, so that they can remain in compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Understanding The Fair Labor Standards Act
The FLSA requires employers to pay employees the federal minimum wage, and has many other provisions regarding payment for workers. The FLSA is issued by the Department of Labor and in addition to the minimum wage is also covers things such as overtime and youth employment.
Some workers travel as part of their jobs. The travel time which is used by a worker as their primary activity must always be considered hours that they work. The FLSA also governs breaks that employees must be given. Typical meal or lunch breaks of 30 minutes are considered a part of work, even if an employee is required to commute. In this case employers are not obligated to compensate them.
However, employees should be relieved of their duties when taking these breaks. Some breaks of five to twenty minutes are also fairly common in certain industries so employees can rest. In these cases the employee may be paid customarily, even if they travel to a location near the premises. While the guidelines for employee travel are relatively straight forward, it is in the best interests of employers to keep abreast of changes in federal or local laws and to adjust their policies accordingly.