Whether travel or drive time is counted as “working time” depends on both the kind of travel involved and when it occurs.
1. Ordinary Home to Work (29 C.F.R. § 785.35)
Generally, normal commuting travel from home to work is not work time and, therefore, does not have to be paid. According to the FLSA regulations, “an employee who travels from home before his regular work day and returns to his home at the end of the work day is engaged in ordinary home to work travel which is a normal incident of employment. This is true whether he works at a fixed location or at different job sites.”
2. Emergency Home to Work (29 C.F.R. § 785.36)
During emergency situations, travel from home to work is work time. For example, an employee who has already gone home after work subsequently gets called out at again that night due to a work-related emergency (e.g. a burst water pipe). All that travel time is working time that must be paid.
3. Special One-Day Assignment in Another City, Home to Work (29 C.F.R. § 785.37)
A non-exempt employee must be paid for all time spent traveling to a seminar, training session, or other work assignment that lasts for a day (of course, such employees also must be paid for all time spent at the seminar, training session, or working).
4. Travel That’s All in a Day’s Work (29 C.F.R. § 785.38)
All time an employee spends traveling as part of his or her principal work activity, such as travel from job site to job site during the workday, must be paid as hours worked. For example, if an employee is required to drive to the office to get a company work truck or to receive instructions or pick up certain materials for work, the travel from the office to the assigned work site also counts as hours worked.
5. Overnight Travel Away from Home (29 C.F.R. § 785.39)
If a non-exempt employee travels to a training session or work assignment, traveling the day before the session or work actually begins, only the travel time that cuts across (overlaps) the employee’s regular workday must be paid. For example, if an employee normally works from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., and leaves for an out-of-town training session at 1 p.m. and arrives at 4 p.m., you are only required to pay for one hour of travel time. However, travel time during nonworking hours may be considered compensable work time if the employee actually performs work while traveling.