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Ohio Travel Time

Posted by Tamara

Many Ohio employers are wondering whether paid travel time is subject to federal overtime laws or whether the hours spent traveling may be counted separately.

There are two kinds of employee travel time, paid and unpaid, depending on the nature of the travel and from where it begins and ends.

The short answer to the original question, however, is that all paid travel time must be counted as work time. Because it is work time, then, it is subject to overtime laws.

A typical question was this one from a Ohio employer who wanted to know if travel time could be exempted. An hourly employee may report to the branch office every day, but be sent on one-day assignments around town. One employer wonders if he can avoid paying overtime when the time worked plus travel time equal more than 40 hours in the payroll week. The answer is “no.”

According to the Fair Labor Standards Act, otherwise known as the FLSA, that would be an illegal move. Failure to pay at the overtime rate would put management in jeopardy of violating federal law.

It is true that not all travel time is paid travel time. An employee making a short commute from home to the first work site of the day (the warehouse in this instance) would be unlikely to qualify for paid travel time. Once that employee gets to the warehouse, however, any added trips from there to work sites would be considered part of the work day. That means the time would be subject to the FLSA and, consequently, the overtime laws.

A hypothetical example will help clarify the issue. Suppose service tech Miguel worked 35 hours the past week and is entitled to 10 hours of travel time. Miguel’s  total would be 45 hours for the payroll week. Under FLSA, of course, anything over 40 hours a week is considered overtime and must be paid at “time-and-a-half,” or 1.5 times the employee’s usual pay. In this case, Miguel would get 40 hours of straight time pay plus another 5 hours at “time-and-a-half.”

Other rules apply when an employee is on an assignment outside the usual commuting range.




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