September 29, 2020

Travel Time
According to the U.S. Department of Labor (“Department of Labor”), time spent traveling during work hours is compensable work time. This is to differentiate from when an employee is simply commuting to or from work.

An employer is required to pay non-exempt employees for all time spent traveling to work-related events. This includes wait times for a flight, air travel, and driving outside the normal commute to name a few examples. These rules, however, do not apply to exempt employees.

Exempt vs. Non-Exempt
An exempt employee receives a salary, rather than an hourly rate, and therefore is exempt from overtime pay. Exempt employees must perform job duties with high-level responsibilities, including professional and managerial tasks. Therefore, exempt employees generally are management, professional, and administrative employees with major responsibilities.

Non-exempt employees are guaranteed an hourly wage and overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). Non-exempt employees perform primarily clerical and nonprofessional work.

For more information regarding exempt vs. non-exempt employees in California, please read our article: Exempt vs. Non-Exempt Employees in California.

Commute Time
As stated above, the Department of Labor generally does not require compensation for an employee’s regular commute. The California Third Appellate District Court, in Hernandez v. Pacific Bell Telephone Company, Inc. held voluntarily commuting in an employer’s company vehicle did not rise to the level of working hours. [Hernandez v. Pacific Bell Telephone Company, Inc. (2018) 29 Cal.App.5th 131.]

Coverage Under the FLSA
The FLSA sets forth federal law regarding minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and minor employment standards. In addition, the FLSA covers individual coverage for employees who travel for work.

Per Diem Limits
In general, California offers $96.00 per night for lodging and $55.00 per day for meals to employees traveling for work. However, there are 20 specific cities in California with location-specific per diem rates, specified by the government. For example, in Los Angeles, the per diem rate for lodging is $181.00 per night and $66.00 per day for meals.

Need more information?
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This article is based on the law as of the date posted at the top of the article. This article does not constitute the provision of legal advice, and does not by itself create an attorney-client relationship with Eskridge Law.