• Jun 06, 2024
  • Wage & Hour

Travel Time Pay for Hourly Employees

Travel Time Pay For Hourly Employees

In California, travel time pay for hourly employees with regular working hours is governed by state labor laws under the Fair Labor Standards Act, which stipulates that employees must be compensated for certain types of travel related to their job duties.

1. Commuting Time

  • Home to Work Travel: Generally, an employee is not paid for travel time if they are commuting from home to their physical job location. This is considered personal commuting time to a job site.
  • Work to Home: Similarly, the time spent traveling outside an employee’s regular work hours, from work back to home, is also not compensable.

2. Travel During the Workday

  • Travel Between Worksites: According to wage and hour laws, if an employee travels from one worksite to another during their workday, those hours spent traveling must be compensated. For example, if an employee travels from their main office to a client’s site, or to another branch during their work hours, that travel time is considered part of their workday and should be paid.
  • Running Errands: If the travel is part of the job duties, such as running errands or picking up supplies, it must be compensated.

3. Special Assignments or Out-of-Town Travel

  • Special One-Day Assignments: When an employee is required to travel to a location other than their regular workplace for a special work assignment, the time spent traveling to and from the special location must be paid, minus the time the employee normally spends commuting.
    • Example: If an employee normally commutes 30 minutes each way but must travel to a site that takes 1 hour, the additional 30 minutes each way should be paid.
  • Overnight Travel: For out-of-town trips that require overnight stays, the time spent traveling should be paid when it falls under the employee’s normal work hours, even on non-workdays (like, weekends).
    • Example: If an employee’s normal working hours are from 9 AM to 5 PM, they should be paid for travel time during those hours, even if on a Saturday.

4. Modes of Transportation

  • Employer-Provided Transportation: If the employer provides transportation and requires employees to use it, the travel time is generally paid.
  • Public or Personal Transportation: If an employee chooses to use their own transportation or public transit when it is not required by the employer, the reimbursement of this time can depend on the specific circumstances and whether the travel is for the employer’s benefit or for work.

5. Overtime Considerations

  • Travel time that qualifies as paid work time must be counted towards an employee’s total hours worked in a workweek. If their travel time results in the employee working more than 8 hours in a day or 40 hours in a week, they may be entitled to overtime pay at their overtime rate.

6. Meal and Rest Breaks

  • Employers must ensure that employees receive their mandated meal and rest breaks during travel. If travel time interrupts these breaks, it could result in penalties for the employer.

Employers in California should have a time tracking tool, maintain accurate records of work-related tasks and the travel associated with them, pay employees fairly for their travel time. Employers have to ensure that they are following state labor laws to avoid potential legal disputes and penalties. Employees should also be aware of their rights regarding travel time pay and ensure they are compensated appropriately.

California Travel Time Pay Rules

In California, travel time pay for hourly employees is governed by specific rules to ensure fair compensation.

  1. Regular Commute vs. Work-Related Travel: Generally, employers are not required to pay for the time employees spend commuting from home to their regular worksite and vice versa outside of an employee’s regular working hours. However, travel that exceeds an employee’s normal daily commute, and that is for work-related purposes, must be compensated​​.
  2. Employer Control: If the travel involves the employee being under the employer’s control, like using employer-provided transportation or traveling between job sites during the workday, that time should be compensated.
  3. Compensation Rates: Travel time must be paid at least the minimum wage rates. Employers can set different rates for travel time, but these rates must not be lower than the minimum wage. If travel time causes the total work hours to exceed the standard 8 hour workday or 40 hour workweek, overtime hours will kick in. Fair payment for overtime is 1.5 times the regular rate of pay for hours over 8 in a day or 40 in a week, and double time for hours over 12 in a day​.
  4. Mileage Reimbursement: If employees use their personal vehicles for work-related travel, employers must reimburse them for mileage and associated costs such as fuel, maintenance, and insurance. This reimbursement is required under California Labor Code Section 2802​. This often applies to salaried employees and non exempt employees, too.
  5. Non-Exempt Employees: For non-exempt employees, travel time that counts as hours worked can easily lead to eligibility for overtime pay. This includes time spent traveling to different job sites, attending meetings, or other work-related activities beyond the regular commute​​.

These regulations aim to ensure that employees are compensated fairly for time spent under the control of their employers and for any additional expenses incurred during work-related travel.

Travel Time Pay – FAQ

is travel time considered work time? Mandatory travel time longer than an employee’s normal commute is considered compensable, or “work time.” Travel time to a job site within reasonable proximity of the employee’s regular work site is not compensable.

does travel time count towards overtime? Travel time can lead to overtime pay if the time exceeds 8 hours in a day or 40 hours in a work week.

do employers have to pay travel time? and do employers have to pay for drive time? If employers to do not travel expenses and travel hours, they could be committing wage theft.


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