Question: I have a non-exempt employee traveling by airplane to another state for a business trip. Do I have to compensate the employee for this travel time?
Answer: According to the Portal-to-Portal Act, an amendment to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), generally non-exempt employees...
must be paid for the travel time that falls within their regular work hours but not for time spent traveling that is not part of their regular work hours, unless they were actually working while traveling. If the travel time is in addition to their regular 40-hour workweek (or other state laws that define overtime-eligible time differently), then those additional hours would be paid at the overtime rate.
Travel time pay issues can be complicated and states may have additional requirements beyond the federal rules. For example, an employer must pay an employee for time spent traveling to and from another city in the same day. However, if the employee doesn’t first report to the usual work location before beginning the travel, the employer may be able to deduct the time the employee usually takes commuting to work. For longer overnight trips when the employee travels to another state on a non-work day, employers must count the travel time during what would be considered normal work hours (for example, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm) as hours worked.
If you are unclear about how time should be paid for a non-exempt employee’s travel, be sure to check with your employment counsel.