When is travel time compensable? The focus is on whether an employee is engaged in travel as part of the employee’s principal activity or for the benefit of the employer.
The Basic Rules
• Basic Rule #1: Normal travel from home to work is not work time. This is true whether the employee works at a fixed location or at different job sites.
• Basic Rule #2: If an employee reports to a central location to pick up equipment before proceeding to his or her assigned work site, the time spent traveling to the central location is not work time. The time spent traveling to the assigned work site is work time. There is, however, an exception to this rule – the meeting place “concept.”
• Basic Rule #3: Overnight travel or travel away from home is work time when it cuts across the employee’s normal workday and/or requires the employee to work on weekends or days when he or she would not otherwise be required to work.
Employers must beware that travel time, like other "side" or "subtle" activities can be compensable if they are integrally connected to the employee’s main job. These side activities, preliminary and postliminary, form the basis of so-called off-the-clock working time cases. I will discuss additional aspects and nuances of travel time issues in future posts.