Many times companies require employees to travel from one location to another and the question arises whether this travel time is compensable. Is an employer required to pay its employees for travel time? Courts look at three factors: 29 Code of Federal Regulations § 785.38 essentially looks at three factors and provides that travel from a designated place to the work place is compensable where (1) an employee is required to report at a meeting place to receive instructions or (2) to perform other work there, or (3) to pick up and to carry tools.
The Portal to Portal Act addresses the issue of whether travel time is compensable under the FLSA. The Act provides an employer is not required to pay the minimum wage to an employee for: (1) walking, riding, or traveling to and from the actual place of performance of the principal activity or activities which such employee is employed to perform; and (2) activities which are preliminary to or postliminary to said principal activity or activities.
Therefore, travel time is compensable under The Portal to Portal Act if it is a principal activity of the employee. 29 U.S.C. § 254. A principal activity refers to work which is “necessary to the business and is performed by the employees, primarily for the benefit of the employer.” Normal commuting from home to work and back is considered ordinary travel and not a “principal activity” absent a contract stating otherwise. 29 U.S.C. § 254; 29 C.F.R. §§ 785.34 and 785.35. Travel from an employer’s campus to the “actual place of performance” is noncompensable. 29 C.F.R. § 790.7(e). However, travel between job sites after work has begun for the day is compensable. 29 C.F.R. § 785.38.