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California Travel Time being paid at minimum wage? California

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  • California Travel Time being paid at minimum wage? California

    What are the policies for reimbursing employees for travel time? We have an employee who spent 6 hours traveling and the HR department would only like to pay him $48.00 (minimum wage) for his entire travel time. His normal rate is above $50 per hour so you can see why he is disputing this. His time was as follows

    drive to airport 55 minutes (35 miles)
    Airport time to check in-wait for flight 1.5 hours
    Fly time 2.5 hours
    Airport time at location - 1 hour
    drive to office 45 minutes (20 miles)

  • #2
    Is he exempt or non-exempt?
    The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by cbg View Post
      Is he exempt or non-exempt?
      He is hourly (non-exempt)

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      • #4
        It's also important to say that he traveled during his normal daily schedule to the location and he returned after a full day of work

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        • #5
          "Employers must also pay for nonexempt employees' extended travel time. In stark contrast to federal law, California requires that all travel time (other than the employee's normal commute) be paid—regardless of whether the employee is performing work during the time spent traveling. Federal law only requires paying for travel that occurs during normal working hours. California law does not distinguish between travel that occurs during normal working hours and travel that takes place outside of that time frame.

          This means that all time spent traveling to or from an event via airplane, train, bus, taxi, car (as a driver or passenger), or other mode of transport, as well as time spent waiting to purchase a ticket, check baggage, or board a mode of transport, is time for which the employee must be paid. This is true even if the employee doesn't work during that time—if, for example, the only thing the employee does on the plane is sleep. It also does not matter why the employee is traveling, as long as he or she is traveling at the employer's request or to engage in authorized work activities
          ."

          and " Although you do have to pay nonexempt employees for travel time, you don't have to pay for travel time at the employee's normal hourly rate. Instead, you can pay a lower travel time rate, as long as it's at least the state or local minimum wage. You also have to notify the employee of the lower travel time pay rate before the employee's travel begins."
          http://www.employeradvice.com/public/4790print.cfm

          Did he know that the time would be paid at minimum prior to working (or travelling)? Very rarely can the compensation rate be changed afterwards. And I am sure CA is one of the states that enforces this well. However a written policy that the employee knew about before hand would pass federal and state muster. Also any overtime would have to be paid as a weighted average ofboth the travel rate and the regular rate.
          Last edited by hr for me; 02-28-2013, 08:50 AM.

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          • #6
            he didnt know that it would be at a lower rate and the company arranged the flight for him.

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            • #7
              Then they would definitely owe him his regular rate. They can also change the policy going forward to not have this occur again.

              If this happens to be you and you only get minimum, you can file a wage claim for the difference.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by hr for me View Post
                Then they would definitely owe him his regular rate. They can also change the policy going forward to not have this occur again.

                If this happens to be you and you only get minimum, you can file a wage claim for the difference.
                Thanks...it isnt for me but its an employee of mine. He doesnt want to dispute the lower rate but I believe he needs to be paid accurately.
                Our HR department (imo) doesn't have the proper training. They offered to "give in" and pay $12 per hour. Hour rate is $60 and minimum wage is $8. Since he worked an 8 hour day his nearly 6 hours of travel would be 4 hours overtime and 6 hours doubletime. Is $12.00 correct?

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                • #9
                  The correct rate is whatever was originally communicated. If the employer failed to communicate the alternative rate, then the normal rate would apply. Common law not only is "employment at will" and change rates at will but the opporutnity to refuse to work at the altered rate. This is a very old well established legal principal, pre-dating FLSA and all statutory labor law. The employer cannot legally retroactively change the rate.

                  Flip the issue a moment. Ideally (from the employer's standpoint):
                  - They need a formal published policy spelling this out.
                  - When the person is hired, they need to have a one page document spelling out the policy and collecting the employee's signature that they were notified of the policy. It is not a big deal if the employee refuses to sign it, because the law does not require this. But the law does require notification PRIOR to the work being done. If the employee refuses to sign it, just have HR write a note that we talked to xxx on mm/dd/yy about this policy and he/she refused to sign it. Problem solved.
                  - If the employer implements such a policy they want to be a ble to prove notification if challenged. A signed document is the best way, but not the only way.

                  But in your case, you did the work and after the fact for the first time the employer pulled this alternative rate out of the air. They owe you the notmsl rate for that trip. HOWEVER, you have been notified of the policy on a go forward basis. There is no specific form that the notification must take.
                  Last edited by DAW; 03-01-2013, 11:23 AM.
                  "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
                  Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

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                  • #10
                    Are you sure this policy isn't listed in your handbook? I have employees who tell me a policy doesn't exist but it is in the handbook they receive their first day.

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