The term travel time refers to those occasions when an employee is asked to report to an alternative work location, goes on a business trip, or commutes to work in a company vehicle. Federal guidelines require employers to compensate their employees for time spent traveling during normal work hours.
Typically, an employee's commute from their home to work location before the start of their workday, and from their work location back home at the end of the day, is considered time not worked. Employers are not required to compensate employees for time not worked.
When an employee travels as part of their normal duties during their workday, they are entitled to compensation. For example, when an appliance repair technician drives to a customer's home, they are paid for this travel time. If the employee is permitted incidental use of the vehicle for commuting, these are not work hours and compensation is not required.
As part of their regular work duties, or on special occasions, employees may be asked to report to a remote location or travel away from work as part of a business trip. When an employee travels as part of their work assignment, the time spent traveling is considered work time. From this work time, employers are permitted to subtract the employee's normal commute. For example, if the employee is asked to report to a location that is 90 minutes from their home and their normal commute is 30 minutes, they should be compensated for at least 90 minutes - 30 minutes, or 60 minutes.
When an employee goes on a business trip, employers are required to compensate the employee when this travel time overlaps with their normal work hours. Companies are permitted to provide compensation beyond that required by law. If the legality of a company's pay policy is called into question, the best course of action is to consult with an experienced labor attorney.