Is your company aware of the United States Department of Labor regulations involving Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) employee travel compliance and on-call pay? Total HR Management can help your company avoid any travel-oriented issues by ensuring FLSA employee travel compliance.
FLSA Employee Travel Compliance
When it comes to FLSA requirements involving employee travel time being treated as working time, there are a number of gray areas. As a basic rule, “home to work” and “work to home” travel time is not work time. This is true even if the employee’s commute is greater than normal or the employee uses a company car for their commute. The employee must not, however, be performing additional work activities while commuting.
For example, the time spent by an employee writing a report is work time, even if it happens to occur while the employee is riding on a bus or a train to or from work. In addition, if an employee makes a work-related stop while commuting, the time to that stop is considered work time.
All In A Day’s Work Travel Time
Travel time that is designated as being “all in a day’s work” is work time. For example, if an employee is travelling in between work sites during the day, “all in a day’s work” begins when he arrives at the first work site, either the home office or an external site. The first work site is defined as the place where the employee first performs work activities.
For example, any employee who travels to the office and picks up needed equipment, then goes to a work site to perform the day’s activities is working from the time they first arrive at the office. Since work is being done by picking up the equipment, the office is the first work site of the day.
Challenge of Nonexempt Employees
Although a company does not need to pay nonexempt employees for their commuting time to and from the workplace, the question of when to pay nonexempt workers for travel locally or on overnight trips can be confusing. Mistakes can spark anything from what seem like trivial complaints to the nightmare of class-action lawsuits, both of which you clearly want to avoid. According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) rules on compensating hourly employees for travel time, if the travel is for the company’s benefit, is compensable. If it is purely commuting, it’s not.
If an employee or a nonexempt employee travels out of town, the time spent traveling to and returning from the other city is work time. Although you can exclude the employee’s regular commuting time and meal breaks, this must be done carefully. Although travel time to the airport is defined in the same way as travel time to the office, everything after should be compensated as work hours, except the drive home from the airport upon the employee’s return. The only exclusion would be meal times. However, if the travel to or from the airport is longer than the employee’s normal commute, the extra mileage and time need to be recorded and compensated.
Total HR Management can help transform this complex regulatory web into clear rules and regulations in your employee handbook. You need to make sure nonexempt employees understand when they will be paid before they travel in advance. All of these regulations should be clearly outlined in your employee policies. We can help train your management staff on the FLSA rules for rest periods, on-call time, training and more.
The Challenge Of On-Call Time
Employees required to remain on-call on the employer’s premises are considered working while on-call. Employees required to remain on-call at home or while out on their own are considered not working while on call. The challenge of on-call time has been simplified by modern cellular technology. Employees are paid for waiting time when they are “engaged to wait.” Employees fall under that definition if they are required to be at a work site while waiting to perform work.
When an employee has gone home after completing his or her day’s work and is subsequently called out at night to perform an emergency job for one of the employer’s customers, all time spent traveling is work time. The Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor, however, has not addressed whether travel to and from the regular workplace in an emergency after hours call is work time.
Travel Rules & Remote Employees
In terms of remote employees, they need to be paid for any travel time taken to deliver their work. If the employee is home-based, but needs to deliver hard copies of their work to the office, that time must be compensated. Homeworkers must be paid for time spent traveling to and from the distribution point to pick up or deliver their work or for face-to-face meetings with their superiors.
Overall, Total HR Management understands if the rules and regulations about FLSA employee travel compliance seem overwhelming. We can help. Please call Total HR Management at (800) 975-5128 to schedule an HR audit for your company.
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