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Colorado Travel Time

Posted by Tamara

Many employees in Colorado and elsewhere are entitled to paid travel time. When those employees do qualify for it, their travel pay is subject to the same overtime and minimum wage laws as the rest of their work time is.

The relevant law is the Fair Labor Standards Act, often simply called the FLSA. If an employer fails to abide by the FLSA, he or she could be violating the law.

The clarification comes up because of a question by a Colorado employer who wanted to know if travel time could be exempted:

 “We have hourly employees who report to the warehouse each day,” the employer wrote, “and then go out on service calls in company vehicles. Can we avoid paying overtime for travel by coding the travel time separately in our payroll system?”

The answer is “no.” Not all travel time is paid travel time. There is usually no requirement for an employee to be paid  for short commutes from home to the warehouse and from the warehouse home.

In this case, however, once an employee arrives at the warehouse, any added travel to work sites would be part of the day’s work, and thus constitute paid travel time. As a result, that time would be subject to all of the usual overtime and minimum wage regulations.

If service tech Robert, as a hypothetical example, will work 35 hours next week and is entitled to 10 hours of paid travel time, his total work week would be 45 hours. Five of those hours – or 5 over the regular 40-hour week – would be considered overtime. He would receive 5 hours at “time-and-a-half,” or 1.5 times his usual pay rate.

Reduced rates for travel rates are sometimes allowable. Assume a carpenter earns $20 an hour for the work he performs but $10 an hour for his travel time. His overtime pay must be calculated by using the carpenter’s average rate or the week. If he works 25 hours in the week and spends 25 hours traveling his average rate is $15 an hour, so the overtime rate is $22.50 hourly.


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