Employee travel time

What is compensable?

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We all know the importance of tracking and compensating non-exempt employees for all time that they spend working. When an employee must travel for work, is ALL time spent on the road compensable? Here are the basics as pertains to non-exempt employees:

Normal commuting time:

As a starting point, the time that an employee spends commuting between their home and their normal worksite is not compensable. However, if on a particular day, the employee must report to a different worksite that is further than the employee’s normal commute, any time spent on this commute that is in excess of the normal commute is compensable time. Moreover, any time that the employee spends commuting between multiple different worksites is compensable, to the extent that it does not include the time for the employee’s commute between home and the normal worksite.

Extended commuting time:

Time that an employee spends within the control of or restrained from free activity due to other transportation methods, such as airlines or train, is also compensable. For example, time that the employee must spend at the airport waiting for a flight is compensable.


Time spent sleeping and other time that the employee is free to spend at leisure or engaged in personal activities (such as sightseeing and meals) does not have to be compensated.

Note that travel time during which the employee is not performing their regular duties can be compensated at a different rate of pay as long as minimum wage and overtime pay requirements are met. If the employee is not able to enter their time through the normal timekeeping method due to the travel, it is important to provide the employee with an alternative method of tracking time, such as a written timesheet document or alternate log. If you intend to compensate employees for travel time at a rate that is different from their regular pay, it is also important to inform them in writing of the rate at which they will be compensated for travel time, for example, in their operative pay plan (or separately, if it’s a position for which no pay plan is necessary).