Travel Pay in California « Law Offices of Timothy Bowles | Top Employment Law Firm in Los Angeles

Travel Pay in California

Policies to Keep Your Business in the Fast Lane

Depending on the magnitude of the error, business owners and managers who discover they have been underpaying workers for travel time could be suddenly afflicted with the equivalent of extreme motion sickness.

Hourly employees must be paid for all “hours worked.”   Depending on the circumstances, an employee can be considered experiencing a “working hour” even when in deep unconsciousness or obnoxious intoxication in seat 36C, Flight 363 Los Angeles to New York.  Where an employee is required to travel for work, near or far, the employer must compensate the worker for that time.  Exceptions are normal commute time or road trip downtime, e.g., meals or entertainment.  Thus, an hourly worker who boards that New York flight for business is earning pay for his or her hours on the plane except the time spent taking a meal.

Unless there is a clear agreement (and it should be in writing) setting a special, reduced “travel rate,” the compensation is at the employee’s normal hourly rate.  In no event should any hourly rate of pay be less than the minimum, currently $8.00 in California.  That state’s daily and weekly overtime laws also apply to work-related travel days.  Thus, that worker that spent a ten hour day flying to New York and then preparing for a meeting in the hotel room has eight straight time hours and two overtime hours coming to him or her.

Written workplace policy on the rules and obligations is of course the best policy here.