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Are Employers Required to Pay Workers for Travel Time?

The Department of Labor and Industry for Pennsylvania ("PA DOL") establishes a very base line requirement for travel time pay. The PA DOL requires an employer to pay for travel time if an employee must first report to the employer prior to going to a job site. If an employee were to go directly to the job site from their home then travel time would need not be paid.

The Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), United States Department of Labor Regulations ("US DOL Regulations"), and the Portal to Portal Act 1947 ("Portal to Portal") set minimum requirements regarding payment for travel. According to the FLSA employees that are exempt from overtime are also exempt from travel pay. For the purposes of this article we will focus solely on hourly and non-exempt employees.

The verbiage and descriptions of the aforementioned laws can be very confusing. An experienced employment attorney can assist in ensuring it is understood.

There are different types of travel according the the above laws and depending on what kind of travel depends on the stipulations of payment.

Types of Travel

- Everyday Travel -According to the Portal to Portal Act employees do not get paid for their normal everyday commute.

Car Travel

- All In A Day's Work -Travel time that is associated with an employee's job will be paid travel time. -If an employee has to go to the post office to pick up mail during the work day then the time traveling to and from the post office is paid time. -If an employee stops at the post office on the way to work the time from home to the post office would be unpaid while the time from the post office to work would be paid time. - If an employee stops at the post office on the way home from work the time to the post office would be paid while the time from the post office to home would be considered unpaid time. - See graphics.

All In A Day's Work

- Day Trip (No Overnight) -Travel time to and from the destination is paid time. -However, regular commute time can be deducted from the overall travel time.

Suitcase Travel

- Overnight Trip -Travel during normal work hours is paid, even if it is on a weekend. If an employee normally works 8-5 and travels on a Saturday during those hours then the travel time would be paid. -Travel outside of normal work hours is unpaid, unless the employee is working while traveling (ex: on a train).

- Emergency Back to Work -The law surrounding the "Emergency Back to Work" situation is very contradictory. It establishes that is an employee goes home for the day and is called back to work or to a job site then all travel will be paid. However, it goes on to state the Divisions don't take a position on whether travel time should be paid. Essentially it is stating that the work should be paid but it is a gray area on whether the travel should be paid or not. An employment attorney can assist in the understanding of complicated laws such as this. When an employee is offered public transportation (ex: bus, train, ect.) and chooses to use their personal transportation then it is up to the discretion of the employer whether to choose the travel time that would be paid. If the time traveled by train would be less than the time driven by car then the employer can pay the shorter time because of the offer of using the provided transportation. On the other hand even if the drive time is shorter than the offered transportation the employer may choose the drive time.

If you have not been paid properly and feel like your travel time should be considered paid time then an employment attorney can help you. Please reach out to us with any questions via phone at (412) 626-5626 or via email at

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