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Texas Travel Time

Posted by Tamara

Employers in Texas and elsewhere in the U.S. must count all paid travel as work time. As such, it is subject to laws about overtime.

Not all travel time is paid travel time, of course, and the difference will be discussed further on, but if it is travel time it falls under the FLSA, or Fair Labor Standards Act.

This comes as a response to a Texas employer who asked if travel time could be exempted. Suppose an employer has hourly employees who report to the warehouse each day. Later, the employees go on service calls in company vehicles. Can the employer avoid paying overtime for travel by coding the travel time separately in their payroll system?

The answer is “no,” if the Texas company is covered by the federal minimum wage and overtime law. According to the FLSA, any employee who works more than 40 hours in the week must be paid overtime, and paid travel counts as part of that time.

As a hypothetical example, if service tech Jose works 35 hours in a week and is entitled to 10 hours of travel time, he has a total of 45 hours. Because that is 5 hours more than the 40-hour week, he is entitled to 40 hours of regular pay and 5 hours of overtime at “time-and-a-half,” or 1.5 times his average hourly rate.

Under some conditions an employer may legally pay workers a reduced rate for travel. Assume, for example, a carpenter who usually earns $20 per hour for his work but just $10 an hour for his travel time. The overtime must be paid at the employee’s average rate per week. If he works 25 hours and spends 25 hours traveling, his average weekly rate is $15 an hour. His overtime rate is $22.50 an hour, despite the fact that some of the time is travel time.

Employees are not entitled to payment for short commutes back and forth from work (in this case, the warehouse).  Once at the warehouse, however, any added travel to work sites becomes part of the regular work day.



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