Paying Workers for Travel Time

Is a boss required to pay workers for travel time to and from a jobsite (such as a cabinet install)? That depends on the circumstances. June 15, 2009

I seem to remember a post on this, but a search did not pull up anything. I am curious on what others do regarding paying hourly employees for travel time? The guys may spend 2-3 weeks in the shop and then the next week on the job installing. Everyone shows up at the shop every morning, then if we have anything to finish up, build, or laminate we take care of it, load the trailer and go to the site. This is typically a half hour to one hour each way. My question is, do most pay for the half to one hour of travel time? What if the guys were reporting directly to the site instead of the shop first? I am sure I will hear strongly from both sides of this story as I can see it both ways, however this can really add up over time.

Forum Responses
(Business and Management Forum)
From contributor F:
I believe labor law is if they work in the shop and then travel you owe them travel time. I think the only exemption is if you have them report at a specified time and the truck is loaded then you aren't responsible for travel time. It’s not really fair to a shop employee to ask him to take a few more hours out of the day and not get compensated, if it was a full time installer it could be part of your arrangement. You should add travel cost in your bids for jobs you have to travel to.

From contributor T:
If you require guys to report to the shop in order to get some work done before traveling to the jobsite, you need to pay them for the time to the jobsite. In other words, you can't ask a guy to go on the clock, then off for a commute, then back on, in my opinion. But once started on a jobsite, I think it's fair to ask guys to show up there directly and absorb the commute. Even then they may grumble for gas comp for a longer commute. I know shops that pay for one way of travel time but not both. So perhaps the return trip is not paid. In my case, installs are the hardest part of the process, so I ask a lot of my helper (in my case only one) and pay him door-to-door, and even bonus money because install days are usually extra long - 18 was my record. 6 A.M. to midnight door to door, but 10, 12 and 14 is typical, including a 1 or 1.5 hour commute.

From contributor D:
I had this situation myself several years ago and this is what I was told as to Michigan labor law by dept. of labor.

Specifically as to a construction crew: employees travel time does not have to be paid for jobsite travel except for the driver of a company vehicle who gets paid for the entire trip both ways. In effect your non driver employees don't get paid but your driver does! Now my employer did not actually follow the guidelines and you can see how easily things could get out of control if everybody wants to drive.

From contributor R:
California requires the employer to pay travel if the employee starts his day at your place of business and/or travels to the job site in a company vehicle. Each state is different. Please do not trust what is done in another state. Check out the laws in your state.

From contributor S:
The cost of travel time should be part of your bid price. You should pay your employee when they are driving your vehicle and they should not be driving your vehicle when not being paid.

If they drive their own car, they are not paid to commute to work (either to the shop or to the job site) unless they report to the shop and then travel to the job site in their own car. If the employee normally starts their day at 8:00 A.M. in the shop but today he is driving from home to the job site in his car he should start his day at 8:00 A.M. at the job site and is not paid for travel time - unless, the job site is far away.

Gas/mileage allowance - paid only if employee is using their vehicle for company business or has to use their vehicle because I have no other way to get him to where I need him to be (company vehicle is full).

Have employees start and end their day at the shop and take company vehicles to the job site and pay them during travel time. If you have the employee use their own vehicle pay the employee for your company's use of their vehicle. Include all travel expenses in your bid.

From the original questioner:
Contributor S- I am referring to employees who are riding in the vehicle, not the driver.

From contributor A:
I believe it is about expectations and fairness. If the employee travels to the shop, he switches to his regular hourly pay, regardless if the job site is up the road or two hours away. Often we end up commuting to job sites for weeks on end. In that case often the employee will drive directly to the job site. In that case we institute the 30 minute rule. The first 30 minutes of any commute are the employees’ responsibility. After 30 minutes he is on the clock. We believe this is the fair method of compensation. At the end of the day you should be billing the customer appropriately for this travel time.