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  • Travel Pay

    I picked up management of a company puchase in Washington state recently and have been tasked with the eventual merger of these companies. The way travel is compensated between the companies is extremely different.

    One requires employees to report to the office each morning, pick up work assignments, switch to a work truck, travel to and from the place of business, return the work truck to the yard. Pay for travel to and from the jobsite is paid at minimum wage. Several employees have questioned this practice.
    1) Are such practices (wages/rates) are addressed legally?

    The parent company has a very lose policy and in fact some employees report hours from home to the job and even from the job home. Some of those employees drive the work trucks home and back.
    2) If the employee is driving a work truck to/from home and the office, are we required to compensate for the time?
    3) If the employee drives a work truck to/frim the jobsite, are we required to compensate for the time?

    4) Is it legal to adopt a two different policies one for those who have the benefit of driving a company truck to/from home without travel pay and one where there is travel pay, but without the benefit of driving the company truck to/from home?

    Thanks in advance,

  • #2
    Portal-to-Portal Act

    All of your questions can be addressed through the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Portal-to-Portal Act.

    1) It is legal for an employer to pay a different wage for different functions, such as paying minimum wage for the time the employee is driving to the site.
    2) Even if the employee drives a work truck to and from home, the employer is not required to compensate him/her for the commute to the job site.
    3) An employer may be required to compensate an employee for the time going to and from the worksite IF the employee is required to stop at another location first for work reasons. For example, if the employee is required to go to the office to pick up his/her assignments before hitting the road to the assignments, then that time going to the assignment is probably compensated time. The reason I say, "probably" is that if the employee has flexibility in the time he/she must report to the assignment, where he/she is able to make personal stops, etc., it may not be compensable.
    If the employee stops at the office first for another reason that is not directly assigned as a responsibility, the trip to the first jobsite is probably not compensable. An example of a stop at an office first that causes his/her time not to be considered as paid time is when an employee goes to the office to pick up his/her paycheck before heading out for an assignment. Another example is when an employee meets others at a central location to catch a van/bus (that may be supplied by the company) that takes him/her to the first worksite. If he/she does not perform work at the central location or on the bus, it may not be seen as paid time.
    However, once the employee begins work and he/she is required to travel to another job site without flexibility in the drive, the time on the road should be considered as paid time.
    4) An employer can establish different policies for different persons, such as those with or without use of a company truck, as long as the reasons or impacts of the policy are not discriminatory or are not due to retaliation on the part of the employer.

    Let me know if you have any other questions.
    Lillian Connell

    Forum Moderator


    • #3
      Thank you much for the clarifications. I appreciate all the information on the board and wish I had found this a few years ago.

      I have an additional question:

      Is it legal to establish a policy that is based on a discretionary benefit? For example those employees who drive a company truck to/from home do so only out of convienence and responsibility and trust.


      • #4

        Yes, it is legal, so long as illegal discrimination doesn't occur as a result of the difference in policies. Let me know if you have any other questions.
        Lillian Connell

        Forum Moderator