Posted by Tamara
According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) each employee who works more than 40 hours in one week is entitled to overtime pay. The pay is calculated at 1.5 times the worker’s usual hourly rate.
There is confusion about this law, however, when considering travel time in New Mexico. For instance, Max is an hourly employee who drives from home to his employer’s warehouse every morning. Once he arrives, he is given a list of service calls to make using the company vehicle. Some New Mexico employers have asked if travel time between these calls can be coded separately to avoid paying overtime.
The answer is no. Under the FLSA, a federal law, travel time between sites after the New Mexico employee reaches the warehouse is considered “all in a day’s work”, and must be counted as work time. Note that the time from the employee’s home to the warehouse and the trip back home are not considered work time, and are therefore not paid time.
The federal regulations about paid travel time are complex and can be confusing, particularly regarding the rate of pay for travel time. It is completely legal, for example, for an employer to pay travel time at a different rate. James is a carpenter. He earns $20 per hour and $10 per hour for travel time. If he works 30 hours and travels 10 hours, his total is 40 hours, and he is not eligible for overtime pay. He would receive 30 hours at $20 per hour and 10 hours at $10 per hour.
If, however, James works 30 hours and travels 20 hours, his total is 50 hours for the week and he is eligible for overtime. His overtime pay is calculated using his average hourly rate for the week of $16. That means James is entitled to overtime this week at a rate of $24 per hour.
These calculations apply to regular travel between work sites. Different rules apply for assignments outside the commuting range and for trips that require an overnight stay.
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