Is Travel Time Overtime?

One side issue that often arises in talking about overtime is travel time. The FLSA has some guidelines on when an employee’s time spent travelling is compensable. When is it considered to be overtime, and when it is travelling from Atlanta to Marietta considered to be all in a days’ work?

For the most part, time spent travelling from your home to your job, no matter how far, is on the employee and is not compensable. The one exception to this rule is if the employee has been called back to work for an emergency or on a special assignment. Then, compensable time includes all of the travel time from home to work and back.

Travelling from one central work location to another one may be compensable, depending on the circumstances. For instance, if the employee engaged in some work activity before the travel started, such as a meeting or a distribution of work- related materials, travel time would be paid. On the other hand, if no work- related activity took place at the central site, but the site were essentially a transportation terminal, then the travel time would not be compensable.

Another issue involves employees who are required as a part of their job to travel away from home for extended periods of time. Travel time that fits into a regular work schedule, and doesn’t take place outside of those regular hours, must be compensated like any other work hours, but no hours beyond that are compensable. If you travel before 5, you get paid. If you travel after 5, you don’t, at least not under the FLSA.

If there is a question, each individual event would have to be dealt with on a case– by- case basis. The basic approach is to determine whether or not the employee’s activity is integral to the company’s goals for that days’ work itself.