Do I have to pay for that?
Understanding Federal time pay rules for employees
Home-to-work and work-to-home.
Employees are not obligated to pay for commute time no matter how far away an employee lives.
If an employee must travel to accomplish the day’s work, it counts as paid time. This is common for service and maintenance employees.
Same-day travel to another city.
Travel to and from another city within one workday should be counted as hours worked. But the employer may deduct the time that an employee would normally spend commuting to work.
Travel over multiple days that occurs during an employee’s normal work hours should be compensated as time worked – no matter the day of the week. Compensation also applies if the employee is driving to a destination during non-work hours unless the employee is traveling as a passenger.
Per diems are generally optional for employees. Travel time pay still applies when a per diem is provided.
Example: $15 for breakfast, $25 for lunch, $40 for dinner
Mileage reimbursement is optional, although generally recommended. The standard IRS rate is currently 54.5 cents per business mile. Employers that provide a mileage reimbursement must also pay the employee for travel time.
Different travel time pay rate.
A different rate of pay for travel is allowed so long as the rate is not less than the minimum wage. This should be clearly communicated in writing prior to the beginning of travel.
Overtime pay for travel.
An employer must count paid travel hours when calculating overtime pay for a workweek.
[Know before you go]
Some states have travel reimbursement rules that differ from the federal rules, so check your state laws before finalizing your policy. If there’s a difference between the federal and state rules, you must apply the more employee-friendly rule. For example, under California law, employers must compensate employees for traveling for an overnight business trip for all time spent on authorized travel whether or not it is during the employees “normal work hours”
[Set the right course]
Your employee handbook is the perfect place to outline your travel guidelines and expectation. Be sure to do so in advance so that employees who are on the road know what to expect. Ensuring that everyone knows the policies prior to travel will help you avoid issues before they arise.
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