Drive time for work refers to the time spent traveling during working hours for work purposes. It’s not the time spent going to and from work. That’s commuting and employers don’t have to pay for that.
Many employers mistakenly believe that since you don’t have to pay employees for drive time to and from work, you don’t have to pay them while they’re driving at all. It’s as though driving anywhere for work is all one big commute. This is a mistake. And a very common one too.
One of the top 10 wage and hour mistakes employers make is related to travel time. Some employers factor drive time out of overtime calculations. Others don’t pay employees for drive time at all. Neither is the correct and legal practice.
Employees who travel from job site to job site during a normal day’s work need to be paid for that time. However, they do not need to be paid when they leave the last job site, under most circumstances.
Examples of Paid Travel Time
- Doing work while flying in an airplane
- Doing work on a bus or light-rail on the way to work
- Picking up work equipment at the beginning of the day and then driving to the job site (Pay should start from the time they pick up the equipment)
- Work errands like driving to the bank, picking up equipment, etc.
- Driving from one work site to another
Examples of Paid Commute Time – Rare Exceptions
While most of the time travel from home to work is not compensable, there are some exceptions. These include:
- Home to work in emergency situations
- Home to work on a special one-day assignment in another city
- Work performed while commuting
Additionally, California applies another exception. Employees in California who must take their employer’s transportation should be paid for the time they spend waiting for and riding that transportation. An example might be brewery or ski resort employees who have to park far away and wait for a company bus to pick them up. They should be paid for that time. To learn why, see the California Peculiarities Employment Law Blog.
FLSA Notes on Drive Time
This is how the commute is defined in the FLSA:
There are some “grey areas” about when the FLSA requires travel time to be treated as working time. However, as a general rule, “home to work” and “work to home” travel time is not work time, and this is true even if the “commute” is longer than normal, to or from a different work site than normal, or the employee uses a company vehicle for the trips. This assumes that the employee is performing no other work activities while commuting.
This is how travel time is defined in the FLSA:
Time spent by an employee writing a report is work time, even if it happens to occur while the employee is riding on a bus (or airplane) to or from work. Travel time which is “all in a day’s work” is work time. Usually, this means that travel time is work time if it occurs between when the employee first arrives at the first work site and before the employee leaves the last work site at the end of the work day.
The first work site is the place where the employee first performs work activities. For example, an employee who travels to the office, picks up equipment, then goes to a work site to perform the day’s activities is working from the time s/he first arrives at the office. Picking up the equipment needed to do the day’s activities is the first work activity of the day, and therefore the office is the first work site of the day.
Tracking Different Rates of Pay for Travel Time
Employers are free to set a lower pay rate for travel time as long as it is at or above minimum wage. It’s complicated to track multiple pay rates for a single employee. That’s why using a time tracking service that supports variable rates is useful for employees who travel.
[…] Employees who travel from job site to job site during a normal day’s work, need to be paid for that time. However, they do not need to be paid when they leave the last job site, under most circumstances. They also don’t need to be paid the same as their regular wage, although they do need to be paid at least minimum wage. For full details, read our article on travel time. […]
In a construction business can I do the following
Employee picks up work truck at 7 then goes to his jobsite and the entire day consist of 9 hours
Can the one hour of drive time be straight time since I have under 25 employees?
Hi I work for a company in California as an instructor and travel from my house to a different school everyday of the week. I go and pick up equipment one day out of the week at the main office and don’t go back till the next week. so i could drive 20 miles one day and 120 the next, i was told by employer that they deduct 30 miles from that days total miles. I was also told that they don’t pay for my drive time to my first location because “im driving to work” even if its an hour and a half away when i leave my house in the morning, and 20 the next day. Really need some advice on this matter. I get paid drive time only if i exceed 3 hours on the road.
Take a look at the quote in the post. The fact that your drive time to work varies is irrelevant as far as getting paid for drive time. You would have to be on a one day assignment in another city to be eligible to get paid for drive time to and from work.
I hope this helps.
Only on a one day assignment? What If you are out of town working for 2-3 days before driving back?
Hi Mark. It might be better to ask an employment lawyer or tax specialist that question. I am just quoting from the DOL website.
What if your job is hundreds of miles from office or shop? Say you start at 7:00am and get off at 3:30pm, I get paid for the 8 hours of work, but drive from Bakersfield Ca. To Sackramento Ca. ( back to shop ) 4 hour drive with company truck towing company trailer / with other employees ? It’s 8:30 by the time we get back to shop, still have 30min drive home. Should I be paid for driving 4 hours back to shop?? Boss says no, job ended in Bakersfield. Any body with words of wisdom?
The FLSA doesn’t require your employer to compensate you when you’re traveling from your residence to your initial work station and vise versa. Your employer should typically reimburse you when you’re traveling from work site to work site, especially when you’re driving to drop off equipment for work. If you’re in California, I would suggest speaking with your local labor board to check the legality of your situation.
I work outside sales and am dispatched from my home to out of town events – some requiring multiple overnight stays. I maintain the ‘tools of my trade’ at home and never report to the main office – some 60 miles away.
My employee requires me to deduct 45 minutes of travel time each way (calling it a normal commute) – even though they reimburse my mileage from home (personal vehicle) when I leave my driveway. I argue that, if I were not leaving home on business they assigned, I would not be commuting at all. In my way of thinking, I am in their employ the entire time.
What is legal?
My employer makes me come in on my off day just to turn in my time sheet and then I go back home. Can that driving time be considered time worked since it’s my off day?
To be blunt, so many employers have unfair practices that are illegal. If you feel like you are being mistreated and/or unfairly compensated (not wages), I would seek out the applicable law(s) and follow through with what ever process is needed to correct it. I am a contract supplier quality engineer. I receive compensation for daily commuting (hm to site and site to hm) to the supplier which is about 2 hours worth Mon through Fri. My employers office is in Virginia and i’m in California.
Hi, I have to go to the bank, and drive to the other job location several times a week. My HR lady told me I can’t be clocked in while driving to the bank or other store location. Said we can only get paid drive time. How is that even rite?? If I get robbed, or have a wreck that is gonna be on me not my work place rite?? I feel we shouldn’t have to be clocked out. We should have to stay clocked in and still get drive time.
The article talks about just this issue. You might want to contact a lawyer if you’re not getting paid while working.
I work for a pest control company with a company vehicle. I was told I dont get paid driving to my first stop, on some days its over an hr away. My time sheet says field time. when I get into that truck I consider it field time. I also pay to have that truck to do my job. Im considered a detached tech, because the office is too far away to leave the truck daily. Is my employer correct in saying I wont be paid getting to my first stop?
Generally, going from home to work – and an hour drive isn’t unreasonable – is not paid work time, nor a reimbursable expense. If you have more concerns, please contact a lawyer.
I started my job 4 years ago. We recently went to paid per job completions. So we get paid $35 for a trouble call, /$50 for a install/ $50 for a service call /$15 for equipment pull/$15 for a site survey.
They dont pay drive time. They somehow caculate the piece rate with drive time and come up with a hourly total. We spend 3 to 6 hours driving. Then our average and efficiency is terrible. That leaves technicians less than $10 a hour.
I drive a company truck, sometime it local sometimes it s three hours away. We get a thing called one hour drive time. Is that if I drive three hour I get paid for one or is it my time starts after a hour?
I need to know this answer as an employer.
What if your employer pays you minimum wage for driving to and from the job site ( 2 hours each way). How does it work if during that drive you hit 10 hours? Would I be paid overtime?
You should be paid overtime for any work performed over 40 hours in a week (or 8 in a day in California) no matter what rate you’re being paid while working. Your overtime rate should be the weighted average of your pay rates.
If you work over 50hrs, but 10 of that is driving at a lower wage, does that mean you don’t get any overtime?
You’d still get overtime. The overtime rate is the weighted average.
If I drive to my company’s construction shop and get there at 5 pm to get the company vehicle and then from there drive to the location to start work at 7pm and work 10 hours (7pm-5am) then drive back to the shop and get there at roughly 6 or 630 am they should have to pay me for all of this time correct? We get to the job site a little before 7 to set up everything for the shift because we aren’t aloud to touch the road until 7pm due to traffic conditions. I should be compensated from the time I leave the shop with their vehicle to go to the site until I return the next morning correct? That would be roughly 13 hrs of pay vs 10. I fee like I’m being royaly screwed out of 15 to 18 hours a week. Please help. Thanks anybody who answers for your time by the way.
Is it legal for my employer to require me to put time I leave from home to time I get to work if its only 15 minutes from work to home and I am not claiming drivevtime or mileage? What if I leave home earlier to run a personal errand and then head to work? I am not claiming the time.
While I know it is not standard to pay my employees for commuting to and from work, is there any law that prevents me from doing so ? I would like to do this. Thanks
I have the guys meet at the office in the morning before riding in company vehicles to the jobsite. As an employer I pay for all the financial obligations it takes to maintain the vehicles, ie: gas, maintenance, tolls repairs… For the guys that do not drive are they to be paid for drive time, to and from the jobsite? Is it mandatory that they get paid when no service is performed?
That would be a good question to send directly to the DOL. You’re doing everyone a favor by driving them to the jobsite but I wonder if they need to be on the clock for that drive since they’re starting from the office and not their homes. I am not sure what the answer is.
I have a question regarding travel time to and from a customers jobsite after hours for the purpose of emargency repairs. Is this travel time supposed to be paid to an employee? Examples: after normal working hours an employee is required to travel to an employer’s customers house for 45 minutes, then make a repair this takes 1hour then travel home 45 minutes This is all after hours emergency work, How much time in hours worked is the employer legally obligated to compensate the employee??
Okay I have a quick question, I would appreciate if you can help me on the matter.
I’m an electrician and everyday I drive to the company shop and pick up the company van. My employer says that I do not get paid until I get to the 1st job site which sometimes can be an hour away. Is this correct? Or should I get paid as soon as I get into the company vehicle and start driving?
The Federal government and state governments have their own laws about reimbursements, so you will want to check with your local labor board about your rights. An employer does not have to reimburse an employee when they are driving from home to the work or vice versa. So in your case, once you arrive at the shop, you should be paid immediately after that because that is your first work site. You need the van to do your necessary work activities, therefore you should get reimbursed. If you were expected to go straight to the job site, then that would be your starting point. However, since they make you go to the shop first, that is your first job location.
Hello! I live in Arizona and quit a job that I worked at for 1 1/2 years,. I drove my own vehicle, and was not paid whilst driving or while my partner at work was driving. & getting paid .25c per mile. I spent majority of the time driving and being in the car which decreased my paycheck. I was young and didn’t know it could possibly be illegal. The place is still around too. I am sad for all the employees that still work there. Any advice on what I should do?
As far as what I know, Arizona’s mileage rate was about double of the mileage rate you were paid. I cannot offer legal advice, but I would suggest speaking with Arizona’s local labor board. However, keep in mind that you will have to have records of mileage in order to get reimbursed.
I am in Montana I am not allowed to drive to work they make us take a bus 1 hour there and 1 hour back as I said I am not allowed to drive should I be compensated
First, I want to mention that federal law does not require employers to reimburse employees when they are traveling from their residence to work and vice versa. That being said, if you’re asking if you are supposed to get compensated for travel, the answer is no. Unfortunately I am unfamiliar with Montana travel laws, so I’m not sure if your employer is legally allowed to tell you how to travel to and from work. I would suggest speaking with your local labor board: https://doa.mt.gov/employee-travel
My boss pays my vo worker travel time but
not me and I’m driving my car she is a passenger
I suggest that you speak to your supervisor about this issue.
Im an electrician and my employer requires me to drive to the shop in the morning and pick up materials and the work truck . After doing all the jobs for the day at different jobsites i am to return to the shop with the work van and materials . I then jump in my personal car and commute back home . Am i supposed to be getting paid the travel time back from the last jobsite to the shop ? ……. sometimes its a 2 hr drive .
Typically driving to and from work is the only time you’re not supposed to be paid for, but I’d verify that. We’re not lawyers here and we don’t give legal advice.
I work for a company that sends me across the country for weeks at a time where I’m constantly putting in 80 ish or more hours every week. I never get overtime because 40 ish of those hours are “work” and 40 ish hours are drive time from one location to another. They will not pay overtime on drive. Only work. But I’m exhausted from driving all these hours at regular pay. Do they need to pay overtime at some point?
The FLSA does not require employers to reimburse employees when they are driving from your residence to their initial work station, and vice versa. However, it sounds like you’re in a unique situation. I would speak with your local labor board or with a legal representative to get more information in regards to your specific case.
I am a DSP I work out in the community if I leave my house at 8am and it takes me 30 min to get there my work pays me mileage as soon as I leave my house but does not pay me a hourly wage for the drive to get my first client of the day is this legal or not any advice would be helpful I’m just curious thanks
That’s interesting. An employer isn’t legally required to compensate employees from their residence to their first official work station and vice versa; however, most of the time they are legally required to compensate you when you’re traveling from job site to job site. You need to check with your local labor board to find out whether or not your state has specific reimbursement laws. Only then will you know whether or not your employer should compensate you.
I work in lab company I do blood work all day working my 40 hr and I drive more 75 miles a day so And I pay gas and to tolls from my pocket and I don’t get compensated for that also mileage in my car . I live in state of Florida is there is any law say after 30 mileage I should be paid for
According to the IRS, an employer is not obligated to reimburse employees when they travel from their residence to an official work station. As far as I’ve researched, it looks like Florida requires employers to reimburse employees at $0.44 per mile; however, there isn’t any information regarding whether they reimburse employees when they’re traveling to and from work. My assumption is that your employer is most-likely not required to pay you for your commute, but Florida might have different standards. You will want to check with the Florida state labor board directly.
If I drive 500 miles to work should I get paid
Technically the IRS does not require an employer from their residence to their first official work station; therefore it’s unlikely that you’re entitled to any sort of compensation.
I’m an field service engineer and my daily routine is to.
1. Check my emails in the morning. File field service reports.
2. Travel from home as assigned to what my task is. Different every day or different sites. My standard drive from home to site is 50-75 miles.
3. Go home to when task is finished.
4. Send customer update.
I dont have a work office. I have a home office desk dedicated for my work.
Can I consider my first and last work is from my home office
Hi Elie, your case is a little more complicated than most. Normally you would travel to your official work station and then receive drive time/mileage reimbursement. Since you’re starting your day at home, it’s different. I suggest that you speak with an HR specialist that understands your state’s travel laws incredibly well because there could be some sort of loophole.
I am a mental health peer specialist and work in person with people and telehealth meetings. Our office has been closed since March 2020 due to the virus and we have been working from home. We have Agency vehicles but have been instructed to use our own to travel to peoples houses. I have been charging time and mileage from when I leave my home until I return but now I am told I must reduce my millage every day by my theoretical commute time to our office and also seems to be some question if they want to my for my travel time. I live in NY state, not sure what the law is, this does not seem right.
Hi Sean, interesting situation. The IRS does not require employers to pay their employees from their residence to their initial work station and vice versa, so your employer technically does not have to reimburse those miles. However, according to NY state law, “A personal vehicle may be used for State business purposes when a State vehicle or common carrier is not available, is not cost effective or is otherwise not appropriate (for example, there is a need to transport voluminous files or documents and use of a State vehicle or common carrier is not practical). Mileage reimbursement rates are determined by the IRS and collective bargaining agreements. Charges for gasoline, oil, accessories, repairs, depreciation, anti-freeze, towing, insurance and other expenditures will not be allowed. These are considered operational costs and are covered in the mileage allowance.
Travelers who are required to use their personal vehicles to transport clients or residents or heavy building or construction materials will receive additional mileage reimbursements in accordance with their collective bargaining agreements. The additional mileage reimbursement may be reportable as income to the IRS. For
more information, please refer to the Guide to Financial Operations Chapter XIII, Section 12.”
I suggest that you speak with an HR representative or with an agent from your state local board to ensure the legality of your situation.
What if your driving from last job site in company vehicle back to the office to get your personal vehicle to take home. Is the employer required to pay. I’m in Maryland
Hi Rob. It looks like Maryland’s reimbursement law is fairly vague, meaning that you’ll most likely have to follow the federal government’s regulations. According to the IRS, an employer doesn’t have to pay an employee for any gas used when traveling from their residence to their official work station, and vice versa. That being said, if you were driving from a temporary work location to the office, that is most likely reimbursable. I would suggest that you speak with your local labor board around the area to see if your employer must reimburse you, but it’s most likely just a benefit and not required by law.
We are a construction company doing work in another county, as an employer was offer to get the employees hotel rooms to make it easier on them. They opt not to stay at the hotel, do we have to pay them to drive back in the company vehicle ??
Every morning I drive from home to the lot to pick up the company owned work truck. Understood that is should not be paid but from there every day I have atleast an hour and a half or more drive to the job site which is different everyday. And often multiple sites a day that are within an hour’s drive apart. I make piece rate so it is told to me by my employer that that travel time doesn’t pay. I live in Ohio wondering if there’s a more official answer to this conflict out there thanks
Yes, you’re correct about not getting paid when traveling from your residence to your first official work station and vice versa. Not only that, but since you’re paid a piece rate, your employer doesn’t technically have to pay you in between jobs. If you were in California, it would be different and your employer would have to compensate you accordingly. Also, when an employer pays piece rate, they technically don’t have to pay you for mileage because they’re paying you a defined rate for the amount of work you do; however, your employer still has to make sure that they’re paying you at least minimum wage. To do this, your employer must track the total number of hours worked in order to ensure that your take-home pay is equivalent (or higher) than minimum wage. If I were you, just to make sure your employer is following the correct employment rules, I would try to contact an HR expert in your state who has a greater understanding as to how your piece-rate system works.
I am a DSP and Due to Covid, I am temporarily working from home virtually with my first client of the day. I then leave my home to go to do in person services with my 2nd client of the day. Am I able to collect drive time and mileage for my trip to the 2nd client, considering my first client I am working with from my home which is technically my first worksite?
Since your first work station is at home and you’re not commuting, I would assume that it doesn’t count as a “commute to your first client”. Since your policy is different because of covid, I would honestly try to speak with your HR representative or ask your local labor board in your area.
I work in payroll for a plumbing company who pays their plumbers piece work and units per job. We keep track of their hours from start to finish everyday and pay them the overtime owed to them. My question is when does there time start and finish? From start to finish at every job or from the time they get to the shop and end at the last job when finished (including drive time)?
We don’t give legal advise here, but I have seen answers where drive time to the first job and from the last job is not covered. I would verify that with a labor board or labor lawyer just to be sure.
I get paid 15.30hr I also get paid 15hr for drive time. When I leave the office to the job site , let’s say it takes me 2hr. Then I work 7 hours. Then drive back to the office to return my equipment takes me 2&1/2hrs.
Thats 4&1/2hrs drive time. 7 hrs work hrs. Thats 11&1/2 hrs for one day. 8 hrs is 15.30 the next 3 & 1/2 hrs is overtime.
Please bare with me!
Does one get paid 15.00 +half= 22.50 for overtime since those hr were drive time, or is the rate for overtime is 7.50?
I am very confused on how my overtime is calculated at half of what I’m paid an hour.
Should my overtime pay rate for regular hrs be 22.65 an hour
And drive time overtime pay be 22.50?
Because thats not how it shows on my paystubs.
I get paid 7.65& 7.50 for my overtime hrs separate.
Does this make any sense to you? And if it does can you explain to me how this works. Honestly I feel this can not be right.
Hello. First off, I’d have to know where you’re located to understand your overtime requirements because overtime requirements vary by state (in some cases). Under normal circumstances, you earn 1.5x your pay when you work overtime hours. Since you earn 2 rates of pay, your employer should actually calculate your regular rate to see your rate for overtime and normal pay. Assuming you earn overtime pay after the first 8 hours of your shift at 1.5x pay and looking at your first day only: your regular rate of pay would be ~$14.86. That’s the rate you would use for your normal pay and overtime pay. I’ll explain… 7 hours @ 15.30 equals $107.10 and 4.5 hours @ 15.00 equals $67.50. Divide that total by the hours you worked, which is 171.60/11.50, and you’ll get a total of $14.86/hr. At the regular rate, your total for the first 7 hours of your shift would be $104.02 (7 x 14.86= 104.02), and the total for the 3.5 overtime hours would be $78.015 (14.86 x 1.5 x 3.5 = 78.015). Your total pay for that day would be $182.035. Overall, if I were you, I’d speak with my HR department to get this settled because it seems as though your employer is not using your normal rate of pay for your overtime calculations.
My company made me drive 74 miles 1/12 hours one way thru 3 cities into another state to work without no compensation my car my gas is this illegal also another time I had a company van and picked up several other people to travel 68 miles 1/12 hours one way into another state to work without drive time
Hi, This is a question that you must as an HR expert or legal counsel in your area. Your employer doesn’t have to compensate you with drive time and gas when you’re driving to your work station from your residence and vice versa; however, there are some exceptions when traveling a long way. Speak with counsel in your area to see what your best options are.
I have workers who work all over California in construction and drive company vehicles to these sites. Do we need to pay them for the time they drive to the hotel and back to the job site for as long as they work on that site? We always pay them to drive to the job and back from the job but there’s been discussion as to whether we should be paying this as travel time.
Hi Nancy. Under IRS rules, you don’t have to pay employees when they’re driving from their residence to their first official workstation (and vice versa). However, you do have to pay an employee mileage reimbursements when they’re driving their own personal vehicles from job site to job site. In California, employers must either pay the exact amount or expenses incurred, OR they can choose to use the IRS mileage reimbursement rate. Most employers choose the IRS rate because it’s easier. Regarding travel time: Typically, if you have your employees travel from job site to job site throughout their shifts, you will have to pay them travel time along with mileage reimbursements. They are driving from job site to job site for work, so they’re technically “working”. All of this depends on your policies, circumstances, and the law. You should consult with an HR expert or attorney in your area to get a clear answer.
We travel from our yard to location, and on our time ticket we put 15 minutes to location and 15 to yard but our travel time is only at 60%
Hi I’m a highly skilled artist with alot of interior designer skills. Clients with multiple homes have demands for my skills.. a client asked me to travel 250 miles and work on specialty project 8hrs &then drive home 250miles for a total of 19 hrs using my company truck how should I bill this I know the labor part but I wanted to home should be pay all my gas food allowance and drive time and if he pays drive time is it both ways or one and can I get .58 for miles or is that doubling up