A little known rule exists both within Wisconsin and the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) which requires employers to pay non-exempt employees for certain travel time. These federal and state laws do not require compensation for all travel time, but only for time spent traveling on trips which will require the employee to stay overnight. The federal wage and hour rules contain a further limitation that the travel time must also cut across the employee’s normal working hours.

So, in order for travel time to be compensable under federal law, each of the following must be true. First, the employee must be non-exempt from the FLSA’s wage and hour requirements. This means that they are not a bona fide executive, administrative, or outside sales employees employee, and that they do not fit under any of the countless other FLSA exemptions. Second, the travel must be on trips which require the employee to stay away from their home communities overnight. Trips a short distance away from the home community do not count. Finally, under federal law, the travel time must occur during hours that the employee normally works. Thus, travel before or after the typical workday is not compensable.

Certain industries may be more exposed to liability for these travel time claims than other. For illustration, asbestos abatement employees are commonly called away from their home communities on multi day jobs in other communities in their state. In many instances, these employees must be compensated for this travel time at their regular or overtime rate.

David Zoeller

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