TRAVEL PAY « Law Offices of Timothy Bowles | Top Employment Law Firm in Los Angeles


Under California law, if an employer requires an hourly California employee to attend an out-of-town business meeting, training session, or any other event, the employer is obligated to pay for the employee’s time getting to and from the location of that event. Time spent driving, or as a passenger on an airplane, train, bus, taxi cab or car, or other mode of transport, in traveling to and from the out-of-town event, and time spent waiting to purchase a ticket, check baggage, or get on board, is, under such circumstances, time spent carrying out the employer’s directives, and thus, is characterized as time in which the employee is subject to the employer’s control. Such compelled travel time therefore constitutes compensable “hours worked.”

On the other hand, time spent taking a break from travel in order to eat a meal, sleep, or engage in purely personal pursuits not connected with the traveling or making necessary travel connections, is not compensable.

For local work assignments, when an employee is intermittently required to report directly from home to a work site other than the company’s office, the employer must pay the employee travel time for any time in excess of the employee’s normal commute time to and from the regular site.  If an employee is routinely directed to report to one outside work site or a succession of them (or to return straight from such site(s) to home at the end of the work period), then that employee’s normal commute time is the duration of each such trip [regardless if the time varies to/from home and various sites] and no such time is considered compensable work time.

The employer may establish a different pay scale for travel time (not less than minimum wage) as opposed to the regular work time rate. The employee must be informed of the different pay rate for travel before the travel begins.

With the exception of specific vehicle operating expenses (including gas, maintenance, insurance) if the company’s travel expense policy authorizes an adequate “per mile” rate for such operations (as set by the IRS), the company’s travel policy must also reimburse for all out-of-pocket business-related travel expenses incurred in the course of an employee’s work time.