Hourly employees

Must you pay hourly employees for travel time outside of there regular work day and/or on Saturdays if they are attending a professional trade show or seminar?


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  • Your subject's a little complex. Here's what one of our recent newsletters had to say:

    Hypothetical: Karen lives and works in Kansas City. Her regular work hours are 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and her typical commute is 30 minutes each way. Her employer -- Thrift Trucking -- gives her a one-day assignment in Jefferson City. That's only 150 miles away, so Karen drives. She leaves her home at 7:00 a.m. and arrives in Jefferson City at 9:30 a.m. She works until 4:30 p.m. with one 30-minute break and then drives home, arriving there at 6:30 p.m. Should the time she spent driving to and from Jefferson City be included in hours worked?

    Answer: Yes. Almost all of Karen's five hours of driving time has to be included in hours worked. When an employee who regularly works in one city is given a one-day assignment in another city, you have to count the time she spends traveling to and from that city as hours worked. The only exception is that you don't have to include the time the employee would have spent commuting to and from her regular office that day. Thrift can deduct an hour from Karen's travel time in computing her hours worked for the day. That means Karen worked a total of 10 hours after the commute time and meal break are deducted.

    Hypothetical: A few weeks later, Thrift gives Karen a three-day assignment in Dallas. Her flight leaves Kansas City on Wednesday at 6:00 a.m. and arrives in Dallas at 8:00 a.m. Karen works until 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday and works full days on Thursday and Friday. She leaves Dallas at 9:00 a.m. Saturday (the first available flight) and arrives in Kansas City at 11:00 a.m. She doesn't perform any productive work on the two flights. Is the time Karen spent flying to and from Dallas included in hours worked?

    Answer: Yes and no. The rules are different for out-of-town job assignments that last more than a day. You have to count the time spent traveling to another city as hours worked if it occurs during the employee's regular work hours or during those same hours on a day the employee does not usually work (like a weekend). Karen flew to Dallas before her regular work hours, so that travel time is not included in her hours worked for the week. But because her return flight to Kansas City was during her regular work hours, it's included in hours worked even though it was on a weekend.

  • The Fair labor standards act may also allow the employees to be paid at a lower rate for driving time. For example, minimum wage for driving time. Then when overtime is calculated, the employee's hourly rate will be a weighted average between the normal rate and minimum wage. This type of situation might apply, for example, when a maintenance employee takes the employers truck home every night, and is not allowed to stop for personal business. The commute time could still be working time.

    Before your company decides to pay a lower rate for driving time, you need to check with your employment attornies, so that you can make sure the policy is implemented correctly.

    Good Luck

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