Travel Time & Mileage – Pay Them Both?

Paid travel time and mileage reimbursement are frequently confused topics. Some employers think they’re the same thing. Some think you don’t have to pay one if you’re paying the other. They are, however, independent of each other as are the rules for paying them.

To calculate reimbursement for mileage, try our free calculator to determine the cost.

Always Pay for Travel Time

If employees drive anywhere during work for work, whether it is in their vehicle or the company’s, they must be paid an hourly rate not less than minimum wage. Paying for travel time is mandated by the FLSA. You can’t get around it. However, mileage is another story.

Consider Paying Mileage

Only employees in California and Massachusetts must be reimbursed for mileage, by law (always check with your state for changes), but there are reasons employers in other states might want to reimburse for mileage too:

  1. Employees are doing work for the company, in their own vehicle, and are incurring work-related expenses. It makes sense that the company would foot the bill for this.
  2. If the expense of driving their own vehicle causes them to drop below minimum wage, then the company will be in violation of wage and hour laws. (Read more on that here.)

In short, you have to pay employees an hourly rate when they’re running errands for you and you don’t have to, but probably should, reimburse them for mileage at the same time.

The most important thing to note is that reimbursing mileage does not release the employer from their responsibility to pay travel time wages.

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77 Responses

  1. My company actually uses time sheets for their employees and it turns out that the owner has argued that when we fly that we shouldn’t get paid because “it requires no attention and the employee can sleep or even drink alcohol on the plane on the company’s time and therefore I will not pay my employees if they are flying from location to location.” It does say that paying employees while traveling is mandated by the FLSA, what exactly does that mean?
    The company owner is tight on his money as many owners are but it seems as if he is trying to cheat the system because most people working for him have no higher education or stance to argue with him. Is it lawful to sue for this issue?

      1. Hi! I am a hospice nurse and everytime my pt has died, my company has required that I take the paperwork, go to mail it in my car, with my gas and time the next day and not get paid for it. I never had to do any any extra unpaid work for a company before. I should get paid for this right?

        1. As long as you are completing work duties, you should get compensation when you’re traveling for work. That means if you’re driving to the mail station on company time, you should get paid for your duties. As far as mileage reimbursement is concerned, that is completely up to your state’s law. Some states don’t require employers to reimburse employees for mileage while other do require employers to reimburse.

    1. Im a security guard traveling to work out of town? Am i supposed to get paid for travel time and per diem? I spend 6 hrs up and 6 hrs back. 12 hrs of travel. And 7-8 hrs of work. I need help!!!!

      1. Under law, employers are not obligated to reimburse employees when they travel from their residence to their official work station. However, you may be eligible for reimbursement through this rule under the DOL “Travel that keeps an employee away from home overnight is travel away from home. Travel away from home is clearly work time when it cuts across the employee’s workday. The time is not only hours worked on regular working days during normal working hours but also during corresponding hours on nonworking days. As an enforcement policy the Division will not consider as work time that time spent in travel away from home outside of regular working hours as a passenger on an airplane, train, boat, bus, or automobile.” If you’re traveling while you’re not technically working, you’ll most likely not get paid an hourly rate either. I would suggest speaking with your local labor board to see what your protections are under your state law.

      2. Can my employer pay a 3rd of my salary with a milage and living expense check? Can my employer also pay everyone in the company there over time with a milage and living expense check? I got my w2 and a 3rd of my salary is not on it, and all other employees have none of there over time on there w2.

  2. What do you mean regular work time? If employees do not work an 8-4 job what considered regular. Someday they may only have one appointment from 10:30am to 1:30pm. Other days they may have 10:30am to 1:30pm and then another appointment from 5:30pm to 8:30pm

  3. I was driving to a training center for classes. I live in Minnesota. The company paid me by the hour for driving to the training facility. Should I have been paid by the mile. I live about 40 miles from training facility.

    1. The travel time and the expense reimbursement both apply in this example. The time you spent driving can be compensated if you drove during your normal scheduled hours. Mileage reimbursement should be due to you if you drove your own vehicle for gas and wear and tear.

  4. my employer does and says this: we work with medicade only. we do not pay milage we pay travel time which is $4.00 per 30 minutes. When we drive to a clients hose we are not allowed any $$ we begin being paid our hourly amount which is $11.00 per hour because they say no milage and give us this “travel time” no pay before we hit the clients house even though it can take me up to an hour to reach the client and give us only $3.50 when clients are close together (in between clients. if i end up an hour away from home at a cliens i dont get paid at all coming home. with the definitions of travel time and mileage shouldnt travel time set it same catagory as your pay? should this b. i think they might e taxed?

    1. You should talk to a lawyer about this. Home care employees might have drive time rules that I am not familiar with.

  5. I appreciate how you say that you would want to consider footing the bill for travel if an employee uses their own car for company business. It would be good to compensate them for this as well. It may be smart to use some kind of fuel card in order to give them the funds necessary.

  6. I’m normally send to a work site that is 110 miles away from my home daily I put 220 or more miles on the vehicle and make at least 2 hr drive going and 2 coming back home this is with no traffic if traffic it could be more then 3 hrs, my employer tells me that the 1st hr is on me therefore I only get paid 2 driving hrs per day . Is this correct or should I get pay 4 hrs daily?

    1. I believe they only have to pay you drive time from the business location to wherever you have to drive. For example I worked for a company that was 40 miles away from my home. Once I got to work I had to travel to go meet clients they paid me from the work office to where I met clients, not from my house to where I met clients. So it depends on the situation.

  7. I bring my vehicle to work to use I. Traveling to various work sites. Should I get paid mileage to bring my vehicle to perform my for job. Part of my job is driving to construction sites.

    1. Hi Steve. I’m not sure I understand your question but it sounds like getting to work is just a regular commute, even though you’ll be using your car for work.

    2. If you drive to one site a day and then go home. Then no. If you drive to multiple sites during your work day then yes. Dont over think this. Check to see if company has a radius rule as well. Ours is anything in 50 miles its all your expense to get to job. Anything over 50 miles we pay mileage and time. If its more than 100 miles we go to per Diem room and meals. Usually a 4 10 hour day week too.

  8. My boss will send me to get keys cause im driving the next day so i will have to drive to get keys for rental car so shouldnt i get the min of 2 hours

  9. I used to work from home between July 2016 and July 2017. During that time I had to visit different locations around the city to look for possible retail sites for the business I worked for. It was never made clear that I would be driving this much to look for locations. During that time alone I must have driven over 10,000 miles for scout for locations and do foot traffic counts. This includes traveling to multiple locations on the same day and running errands for the business.
    I live in Houston, TX. Is my employer liable to reimburse me for my expenses if it’s not explicitly mentioned on my contract?

  10. What is a fair hourly $ amount to pay for travel time to someone riding in a company vehicle where the gas is paid by the company. Travel time to the job would be approximately 6 hours each way, twice a week; employees stay over night the rest of the week.

    1. Hi Becky,

      I think that would depend on the employee’s regular hourly rate. If the employee normally makes $20 per hour, dropping down to minimum wage, for example, might not be fair.

  11. I currently work for a private investigator and he was paying me for travel time from my home to the location of work and he was also paying me mileage. Just recently though he told me that he isn’t obligated to pay for travel time because he is paying for mileage. Is that true? or am I entitled to both travel time and mileage. I am driving my own vehicle too.

    1. If you are driving during working hours for work and not commuting, then you do need to be paid for travel time. But depending on what state you’re in, you may not need to be paid mileage.

      1. What do you consider ‘working hours’? Would this be the employees regular work schedule or would this be anytime from sun up to sun down?

  12. Can a company deduct from your pay if your using a company car? Given that they allow you to take the car home. They are charging me for using the “company car”

  13. I’m required to travel to River side from El Centro it takes 2hrs 40 min, no traffic .. I have to leave at 7 am to get to the meeting on time at 10 am … They will start my hourly wage at 8:30 am … They will only pay 1hr and 30 min of travel back and forth … And I will not get mileage paid .. is this right? I feel like I’m losing money here and it’s mandatory I have no option.

  14. We have a cleaning company that is currently run out of our home. We are legal (insured llc), we just don’t require a physical space. My question regarding employees driving from their home to clean building A, then traveling to B, then C and finally home again. We currently pay an hourly wage from the time they leave their house until they return home. Are we following the law? My understanding is we don’t have to pay mileage in addition to this hourly wage which is well above minimum wage in our state.

    1. Hi Ella,

      You are correct in paying drive time for employees driving from one location to another. You may have to pay mileage also depending on which state you’re in and depending on how high the employee’s driving expenses are.

  15. Hello,

    I work for company that pays us per session to go into a home and provide a therapy service to children for 60 minutes. We have 6-7 clients a day between an 8 hour work day. The last 10 minutes of each session are meant to be used for notes documenting what happened during the session, but instead, our employer has us leave at the 50 minute mark and drive to the next session in that time. So her excuse is that she pays us for those ten minutes and she pays us for mileage. So she doesnt need to pay drive time. However at the end of the day we are left with 6-7 notes to write after our sessions and 8 hour work day is over. So my question is should we be getting paid for drive time? Sometimes we have drive time that accumulates up to an hour for the whole day. We live in California.

  16. My Company pays mileage anytime you use your personal car for an errand (Post Office , Bank, etc.)
    They also pay a per diem for days you are away from home and have sleep in a hotel or days you are out of office all day with customers even if you go home that night,\.
    They pay all the rental car when you are out of town.

    My question is when you are using the rental (that the company is paying for) and you are getting your regular income in pay and you are getting a daily per diem, should you also claim mileage?

    Not every one does so I am wondering.

    1. If you are paying for gas, you can probably claim that (save your receipts), but mileage includes depreciation, wear and tear, as well as gas, so it doesn’t make much sense to claim mileage on a car that you are not losing to wear and tear and depreciation.

  17. Hi,
    We worked in different cities. We normally work Monday through Friday. We’re paying our employees Per diem, travel time and mileage. My questions, If we travel Saturday then they are off Sunday, Monday start work, do we still have to pay them for Sunday? Do we still pay for mileage from hotel to work? (6 miles)

  18. I work for a dr office that has offices in 2 different cities. When someone was on leave, I was asked to cover for them in the other office which is about an hour further each way and about 40 miles further each way. I was not paid mileage or for the hours driven and I only make $13 an hour. My company’s accountant says that they can’t pay mileage to travel to another office.

  19. I drive for a company and get paid by the miles but not the miles that I’m supposed to be paid by.What I mean is that I’m an over the road truck driver and I drive 32 to 3800 mpw (miles per week)at a rate of .42pm.When I ask payroll why my check is at such a low pay of 5 to 600 dollars she say it’s because that’s the miles you drove.WHEN I tell her that its wrong and they owe me money she says no cause they pay me by the miles that the paper work says how many I’ve drive that is way off from what the elog says.As a truck driver we get paid by the miles that’s been driven from shipper to receiver.My employer is not paying me for all the miles I drive they’re not paying me what the elog has recorded for the weekly miles that I drive they’re paying me what the paper is saying to pay me which is not the way I’m supposed to be.

  20. Im try to see if my company is trying to get me out money we are working out of town and drive 250 miles each way to job site and we get 50 dollar’s a day. For per dm and we work 8 hour shifts the one day i worked 6 hour shift and they took the 50 for the days per dm they said they dont have pay me the 50 for day because i worked 6 hours and not 8 can they do that

  21. What happens when the office you work for is located in the same town as you but your job site is 150 miles away (both in California) are the required to pay you mileage and hourly rate or just mileage? And the job site fluctuates all the time.

  22. I work for a company that breaks out my pay on an hourly and on my vehicle. Here is my example; I am paid $25 hourly and $12 an hour for vehicle. On Overtime they are paying me $37.50 which is 1.5 my regular rate but only paying $12 for the vehicle for all hours up to 40 and any hours in excess of 40. Legally wouldn’t they have to pay 1.5 on the $12 as I am still using the vehicle while working overtime. This work is throughout the midwest and east coast. Iowa, NC, OH just to name a few states

  23. I work for a cleaning company in Louisiana and use my personal vehicle to drive to 2-5 locations a day i am paid drive time only from those locations (not paid for time to firat house or from last home ,sometimes 40 mins away) and only .15 cents a mile is this legal or correct?

  24. I work for a company from a home office, however, for periods at a time, i have to travel 30+ minutes to another location. My employer reimburses me at 20 cent per mile. If i were working from home office, i would arrive at 7:45 & leave at 5pm per our usual hours but becaise i have to drive 45 min daily right now to another location, i arrive at 8:30 and leave at 4:30. The accountant said he doesnt have to pay my travel time and wants to adjust my salary according to the actual hours worked but it seems infair to me since i cant help to be there at a certain time due to the travel time. Is this right?

  25. my company collects blood from donors… the blood drives are all over the state. and at all different times of day…. for almost 5 years at the least, we have been paid for travel time from the blood center to the blood drive site in a company vehicle… now our stupid union and the blood company are trying to say we will henceforth dive our personal vehicles to the drive sites.. being compensated mileage minus our normal commute distance from to reach the blood center… And that we can’t clock in until we reach the blood drive site!… this is so far from what have been accustomed to for years and anything typical. It makes no sense to us and we don’t have a normal work schedule… because our schedule is determined by the blood drive location as well as blood drive hours that day.
    can they do this to us?!… it is going to reduce our weekly hours by ateast 10-15 hrs a week… (and… God forbid we get halfway to one drive 90 miles away and get rerouted to another drive 50 miles from the the center in the opposite direction…..) this is all nuts and we are very upset… can they do this? our blood center is located in richland, Washington.

    1. It depends on how far the drive is and whether it’s in a different town. It may not be right. Contact the labor board in your state.

  26. My company has been making me attend classes/meetings 1 1/2 to 2 hours away but says if I’m coming from home i only get paid for the 2 hours that I’m at the meeting but if I come from work then I get paid the amount of time it took to get there. Is this legal? It takes too much of my gas to be driving there every week to only get paid for 2 hours. Just curious if I can do something about this or not.

  27. I drive to clients home up to 150 miles round trip. The company pays flat fee for each visit and .58 cents a mile. No travel time. Is that legal in CA?

    Also ..I have another job that pays me travel time to drive to companies for client screenings. However will not pay mileage until it’s over 60 miles round trip. Again in Ca…is that legal?

  28. Hello
    I work for a company that’s says they pay by the job and not for the travel time. I use the company vehicle to get from one job to the other sometimes 10mins sometime 3-4hours. It’s mandatory I work 11.5hrs a day. I did question this and they said it all works out.
    I talked to a few guys about this and one of their big concern was what happens if I get into a accident? I’m off the clock hmm.
    The one time I broke down and was stuck for 4 days. They did give me $20 a day to eat with but they made me check out of the hotel and wait in the lobby “just Incase it got fixed”. Mind you that I was hundreds miles away from home in a small town.
    Is this aloud by law?

  29. Good morning I work for a company in Louisiana that pays hourly or commissions which ever is greater. Once a week I am required to travel at least 1 hour away to a weekly meeting. We clock in and out at the start and end of meeting. We do not get paid mileage and because my commission is always higher than my hourly pay I don’t get paid hourly either. Should I be paid for at least one of these?

  30. In California, If my employer is paying me mileage plus salary to go to the bank on my way home, is that law to pay both. . If I was in the accident on my way to the bank, is that considered workers comp. I am assuming that an employee will be paid one of the other, either the mileage or the wage for a simple trip after work to go to the bank or the post office for you employer.

    1. As with everything there’s gray area in real-world scenarios. Mileage reimbursement is usually NOT paid for driving to the first and from the last stop of a job. So your trip from work to the bank would probably be reimbursable mileage and covered under workers comp, but from the bank to your home would probably not be considered work time or be reimbursable for mileage. It would be best to check with a professional to confirm this.

  31. My office is 15 min from my house. I am starting a new project where it will take me 1.5 hours to get there and the same to get back, this is without traffic. Its about 75 miles to get there. employer be paying for my time or mileage?

    1. Most states have their own mileage and reimbursement laws. Typically, your employer doesn’t have to reimburse you for traveling from home to your first work location. It looks like you may be able eligible for the 50 Mile Offset Rule regulated by the IRS.Check with your state’s labor board to see what laws apply to your employer.

  32. I live in California and are required to travel from Home/Office to multiple Site locations each day using my own vehicle. I am told, that I will only get reimbursed for my time of travel and the mileage in-between the individual Sites, not the mileage from Home/Office and back, which is the majority of it and can easily get past 100miles/day. This does not seem correct to me . Is there something I am missing here ?

    1. Hi Thomas. California law requires that all expenses must be reimbursed. The California Department of Human Resources’ policy indicates “When an employee is required to report to an alternate work location, the employee may be reimbursed for the number of miles driven in excess of his/her normal commute to work.” Employees typically do not get reimbursed when traveling from their residence to the official work station, you would only get reimbursed traveling to each work location after your first official stop.

  33. I live and work in Virginia. My normal schedule is 6:00AM TO 2:00PM Monday-Friday. My employer pays mileage when I travel between sites during the work day. If I have to report to a work site afterhours or on a weekend on an emergency call I’m being told that they do not pay mileage to/from home to the site. I contend this is outside my normal work day and therefore should be paid for mileage. Thanks for your thoughts.

    1. It looks like Virginia doesn’t have it’s own mileage reimbursement laws, therefore, they follow the IRS standards. The IRS states that employees do not need to be reimbursed when traveling to and from the work location– you can only get reimbursed when traveling to different locations after driving to your initial work station. I would suggest checking with your local labor board to be sure.

  34. I live in Maryland my home health agency is charging and crying $2.50 for travel mileage if I take him to the store I usually go out with him Maybe 40 miles every two weeks which is 80 miles X 2.50 that would be about $80 they take out half of the money and send me half of the money are they supposed to do this.

    1. I can tell you that the Federal government does not require employers to pay employees for mileage; it’s just a general rate. Employers can actually choose to reimburse more or less than the federal mileage rate, so getting reimbursed is actually a perk that an employer provides. After looking up Maryland’s mileage reimbursement laws, it looks as though Maryland adopted the federal rate (58 cents per mile). The Maryland Judiciary did make a statement that says “effective January 1, 2019, please use .58 cents per mile for mileage reimbursement for all business travel occurring after January 1, 2019”, but I’m not sure if that’s mandatory or if it’s just a guideline. Normally an employer wouldn’t charge you for driving during work hours; they would have to pay you. I’m unsure why your employer is charging you and then taking half of the reimbursement. This sounds unique, and I would suggest speaking with your local labor board about this. They will have a clear understanding of your rights and they will be able to clear this up.

  35. My employer is demanding I drive to bank and make daily deposits and then drive to main office which is 30 miles from we’re I work using my own vehicle They say they will not pay for my time but will pay me for mileage . I live in Florida. I was wanting to know should they have to pay for both time and travel

    1. If you are performing work duties, your employer needs to pay you for your time in addition to paying for your mileage. Upon my research, Florida doesn’t have any sort of mileage reimbursement law that has been passed, so technically your employer isn’t required to reimburse you. No matter what, your employer MUST pay you for time that you are working. If going to the bank to make a daily deposit is a work duty, they need to pay you accordingly. Additionally, your employer must pay you at least minimum wage. If your employer is only paying your for reimbursement and not paying you minimum wage, that is an issue. I would suggest speaking with your HR department or local labor board to ensure that your employer is compensating you accordingly.

  36. Our company will only pay drive time according to Google maps so if it says it takes 12 hours to get from one point to the next and that’s all we’re paid regardless if we get backed up in traffic or caught up in traffic or a wreck or have to fill up with fuel is that the correct way to Be paid.
    Also there is none of this that is in writing to say that’s how the company pays just word-of-mouth. Thank you

    1. I’m not sure if I understand your question here. Are you asking if it’s legal for your boss to pay you travel time rather than per mile? If so, mileage reimbursement is entirely up to your state’s policy. Some states do not require any form of reimbursement while other states do; therefore, I would suggest speaking with your local labor board about the legality of your situation.

  37. My company hires independent contractors to perform tasks for us for our corporate concierge clients. They are paid the agreed upon hourly fee for the services performed once on site, plus mileage (round trip) for each job assignment. They are not employees. Recently we’ve been receiving invoices from some of them, and they are charging an hourly rate for driving to and from the site plus mileage. The justification is that they’re on the clock once they start towards the site for us, since driving there is a part of the job. We don’t feel that we should have to pay the hourly rate for their travel time since we’re already paying them the mileage reimbursement fee (@ .58/mile – nat’l rate no matter where they live), and because they are not yet performing the task that they’ve been contracted to do for us. We have no way to account for drive time and just have to trust that they’re telling us the truth. As you can imagine, this is cutting way in to our bottom line. Are we obligated to pay an hourly fee and mileage to independent contractors?

  38. When driving for work you get paid for going there but do you get paid for the trip back? Even if you are heading back home. Basically making house calls for clients from my house to their house and then back to mine since I don’t work out of the corporate office?

    Right now I’m only getting paid to go there but not back and I am getting paid minimum wage when driving.

    1. Technically employers are not obligated to reimburse employees when they travel from their residence to their first official work station and vice versa. This means that they do not have to provide compensation for your drive home. They do, however, have to reimburse you if your cost of gas causes you to go below minimum wage.

  39. Doing temp work for a company and was promised reimbursement for commuting mileage. I know they don’t have to do it but it was incentive because no one wanted to drive that far. I traveled about 80 miles one way and of course about 80 miles back home. Should I get reimbursed for only one way trip of 80 miles or both trips of about 160 miles?

    1. Hi Karina, an employer is not required by law to reimburse employees when they travel from their residence to their initial work station and vice versa. However, you might qualify for the “50 Mile Offset Rule”. Speak with your local labor board about IRS travel reimbursements to see if you qualify for any reimbursements from your employer.

  40. Hello I work out of state for my employer where the owner rents an AirBnB that is paid for us to stay in. We drive to and from a centralized meeting spot that can range from 30mins-1hr away from our residence. Considering that I am driving his work vehicles to and from this place, can I claim drive time? And does it count towards overtime?

    1. The IRS does not require employers to pay employees when they’re traveling to their fist official work station. Technically, you most likely won’t be able to claim drive time, but that’s a question you can ask your HR representative or local labor board. For further information, the IRS 2019 publication 463 explains travel deductions in detail in that article. You might also want to read the IRS travel guide.

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