Rate of Pay for Travel Day

Sometimes, employers have to send hourly workers on trips, and then get all stupefied because they don’t know how to pay them. They either think that they have to pay them for 24 hours a day while traveling or that they can pay them the same amount they’d always paid them.  Truth is both could be true depending on the circumstances.

Those are abnormal circumstances. Here’s what most employers need to know.

1.       Employers may pay reduced rates for travel time.  Non-exempt employees are only entitled to the minimum wage, regardless of how prestigious their positions may be. Therefore, unless there is an employment agreement or contract of some sort that "guarantees" the employee a certain amount of money for all compensable hours worked, or a state law that prohibits the reduction of regular wages, travel time may be at some rate lower than the employee's regular wage, as long as that amount is at or above the minimum wage. (The highest of that required by the state or federal government.)

2.       Only time that cuts across the regular work schedule has to be paid for.  A quick example in the interest of simplicity, if Johnny regularly works 8am – 5pm, M – F, and is traveling 7am – 9am, he only has to be paid for the 8 – 9 hour. If he is traveling 3pm – 6pm, he has to be paid for the two hours from 3 to five, not 5 to six, though. He has to be paid the same way if traveling on the weekend, by the way.

3.       The time spent sleeping is not compensable. You don’t generally have to pay your traveling employee for the time spent not working, even if he is away from home for a period of time.


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