To pay or not to pay? That’s the question when it comes to business-related travel time for nonexempt (hourly) employees.  Here are the most important rules to remember.

Home-to-work travel:  Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Portal-to Portal Act (an amendment to the FLSA), regular travel to and from work does not count as working time unless the employee actually works en route.  This is true even if the work site fluctuates.  Unless the employer requires the employee to report to a central location to receive assignments, supplies or tools, then travel time from the central site to the job site is paid time.

Travel during the work day:  An employer must count travel that is a regular part of the worker’s daily duties as hours worked.  Federal law considers this “all in a day’s work.”  This includes travel to different job sites during the workday and time spent driving from customer to customer.  This benefits the business, so the company must pay.

Day-trippers:  Typically, all travel time on a day trip is counted as time worked, except meal periods, including when an employee travels to another city or job location on assignment.  However, travel time between the employee’s home and the airport is not paid because this falls under the home-to-work rule. This is true even if travel time to the airport far exceeds the worker’s normal commute.  If the out-of-town trip requires an overnight stay, the employer must pay for travel during normal working hours – no matter what day of the week.

Sleeping time and training:  The U.S. Department of Labor also sets “when to pay” rules for these two sticky FLSA issues:

  • Sleeping time: Employees who are required to be on duty for less than 24 hours are considered “working” even if they are permitted to sleep.  Employees required to be on duty for 24 hours or more may agree with their employer to exclude from hours worked any scheduled sleeping periods of eight hours or less.
  • Training programs:  Employers do not have to pay for time spent at training programs, as long as they meet the following four criteria: (1) the event is outside normal working hours; (2) attendance is voluntary; (3) the program is not job-related; and (4) no work is performed during attendance.

    • Always ask the question: Is the employee’s travel mainly for the company’s benefit?
    • In general, if the answer is “yes,” then the company must pay for the employee’s travel time.


    Please contact a Gjording Fouser lawyer at 208.336.9777 if you would like any additional information about this topic or any other employment issues facing your company.