Road Rules: Does your employer have to pay you for drive time?

Roadblock for drive time payWhen it comes to drive time, the rules of the road are often unclear. For hourly and other non-exempt employees who drive as part of their jobs, it is important to know whether and when drive time must be paid.

Generally, regular commuting from your home to your worksite is not compensable, even if your home is far away from your work. However, significant work performed at home prior to driving to work, such as calling or emailing clients, completing work-related paperwork, and mapping out their assignments may make the commute time compensable.

In addition, if you are required to stop someplace on the way to your job site, such as at your employer’s facility to pick up tools or parts, you are entitled to be paid for the time spent driving from the facility to the job site, and from the job site back to the facility, if you must stop at the facility before going home. There are also exceptions for employees who regularly commute from home to assignments in variable locations if the assignment impacts the employee’s ordinary commute to different locations.

Employees who drive from job site to job site must be paid for the time spent driving in between job sites.

Many employers pay for drive time separately, often at a lower rate of pay than they pay for regular hours worked. This is not illegal, so long as your employer notifies you in advance of the different rate and you are being paid at least minimum wage to drive, but all hours worked – including compensable drive time – must be included for determining whether an employee is due overtime pay at one and one-half times the employee’s regular rate of pay. When a different rate of pay is used, there is a special calculation that an employer must use in order to blend the various rates of pay to ensure they are paying the right amount of overtime.

Many employees who travel during the workday do not stop for lunch and eat lunch while on the road.  It is illegal for your employer to require that you clock out for a lunch break or automatically deduct time for lunch from your pay if you are eating while engaged in compensable drive time and do not actually take a break for lunch.

Employees who drive to a special assignment in another city and return the same day must be paid for their drive time, minus the amount of time they would normally spend on their commute.

Employees who drive to another city for an overnight trip must be compensated for drive time that occurs during the employee’s normal working hours on their regular workday or the same hours on their non-workdays. If the employee is required to drive to the assignment, then drive time occurring outside of regular non-working hours must also be compensated. Travel time outside of regular working hours as a passenger on an airplane, train, boat, bus or automobile is not considered work time and does not have to be compensated, unless traveling as a passenger to assist the driver is required by the employer.

If the employee performs work while traveling as a passenger, such as working on a laptop while on a plane, the time spent working must be compensated. In addition, while drive time from a hotel where the employee is staying to the job site and time spent sleeping is not compensable, all work performed must be compensated, so employees who perform work while at a hotel (such as working from a laptop or making work-related calls while in the hotel) must be compensated for their time spent performing work.

As you navigate the road rules relating to compensation, workplace drive time issues may arise.  We help employees ensure they are paid for their compensable work time.  If you have questions about your drive time being included in your hours worked, contact us at (800) 616-4000 or [email protected]. At Shavitz Law Group, we have helped thousands of workers stand up for their right to be fairly compensated.



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