Travel Time: Should Employers Pay the Bill? | Mann & Elias
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Travel Time: Should Employers Pay the Bill?

Employment Attorneys Can Protect Your Right to Work Travel Coverage

How often do you travel for work? Taking a lot of work-related business trips can be expensive. In fact, you might be wondering if your employer can subsidize part of the expense. In the end, any hour worked must get counted, right? At least our wage and hour attorneys in Los Angeles think so. But the answer to this question is often more complicated than it seems. Depending on your job, employees are entitled to receive partial payment for some of their travel time. It also depends on three additional factors:

  • If you stayed overnight
  • If it occurred during work hours
  • Whether you commute to the airport/train station/another travel center

Commuting and Traveling on The Job

In California, companies must pay at least minimum wage for all hours worked – including travel time. However, everyone has their definition for what that might entail. In most cases, people only consider day trips, plane flights, and long hours outside the office. Commuting and traveling to the workplace counts too. According to a lawyer for unpaid overtime in LA, whether you get paid is based on two legal requirements:

  • If the hours include times when you performed work (sending emails, making phone calls, working on projects), or
  • The time spent not doing work – but well within your employee rights. As long as the employer still exercises control of you, the law considers it as work.

In most states, workers are not eligible to get paid for their daily commute. The time contributed to driving or taking public transportation to and from home is often not reflected by the company. The only time it would be honored is if the company provides transportation from a central location to the site. Or if an employee (like an IT specialist) gets asked to come into work at odd hours to handle emergencies. Only then would the paycheck reflect both hours worked and the time it took to get to and from the office.

Outside of commuting from home, employers also expect employees to pay for travel time that is a part of the day-to-day job. For instance, if you work on commission, driving to clients and customers should be reflected in your next paycheck. Especially if you rarely travel for work.

Day Trips for Business

Employers should compensate workers for the time they spent traveling for one-day business trips. Unless it was out of goodwill, they are not legally obligated to cover transportation fees to and from the airport. It is considered unpaid commuting time like your daily drive to work.

If you worked on the way to the airport, that is “legally considered” as performing work. Though your company may have a strict policy on reimbursement, your employer cannot deny you this right. If so, you might need a workplace lawyer in LA to sue the company for unpaid wages.

Example 1 – An employee lives in Long Beach, California. His commute to the office takes 15 minutes. This week, the employer sent him to San Francisco on business, but he suspects it will take an hour to and from the airport.

The employee is entitled to get paid for the time he spends on the plane, being on the clock in San Fran, and the plane ride coming home. But the time spent getting back will not be considered commuting time even though it added 45 minutes to his daily travel time.

Overnight Trips

Are you required to travel and stay overnight for work? Chances are, you are entitled to get paid for most of the time spent traveling. If you have concerns regarding what they might look like based on your employment circumstances, an attorney for unpaid overtime in Los Angeles can further explain how wage and hour laws work and provide the best legal advice to increase your chances at compensation. A few examples of work trips that require an extended stay are:

  • Conferences
  • Seminars
  • Training
  • Visiting Plants/Job sites
  • Sales Meeting

When workers are out of town, the rules are slightly different. Whether the travel takes place during work hours, going to business meetings, or other events with mandatory attendance, is compensable. Employers should cover most costs if you need to attend the conference.

Otherwise, they will exclude travel time from the company’s bill. The following gets excluded:

  • Rest and Meal Breaks
  • Sleeping
  • Personal Trips/Sightseeing

Example 2 – An employee usually works 9 AM to 5 PM but left the office at 3 PM to catch a flight for an overnight business trip. He should get paid for the remaining hours in his workday, but not for the time spent traveling that night.

When the employee takes a 10 AM flight to get home on Sunday, he is entitled to get paid for all that time. The four hours spent flying for “business” occurred on the weekend during regular work hours.

Recover Your Travel Time Pay

Like any legal case, there is a strict time limit for recovering unpaid travel time. It is always best to act quickly from the moment you notice that all your wages are unpaid and late. Especially if you suspect it was because of circumstances like:

  • Discrimination
  • Retaliation
  • Demotion
  • Suspension
  • Reassignment
  • Other Adverse Actions by Your Employer

If you already have a claim, our Los Angeles labor attorney for employees can only help you recover lost wages dating back four years from the moment you filed.

Need Legal Help? Reach Out to an Employment Attorney in LA

The Law Offices of Mann & Elias is an employment law firm that provides guidance and legal support for individuals facing issues in the workplace. We represent clients at every level of the state and federal court systems in lawsuits regarding discrimination, wrongful termination, unpaid wages, and more. When your case is in our hands, we hope to minimize stress and concerns associated with work.

Workplace disputes and negotiations can be complicated and uncomfortable between an employee and employer. In many cases, an employer can retaliate, causing individuals to feel disadvantaged in the company. When you retain one of our lawyers, you will be well-protected and advised. While there are thousands of lawyers to choose from, we believe our success rooted in:

  • 50+ years of trial experience
  • Excellent advocacy skills
  • Intense preparation and research
  • Quality care

Since our partnership began over 20 years ago, we have settled hundreds of claims, completed 100 jury and bench trials, and recovered more than $18 million in settlements. In the end, our goal is to understand what you need and achieve the best outcome for you by focusing on those needs. For dedicated representation with no upfront fees, give us a call at 323-866-9564 or email


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