Employers often ask whether employees must be paid for training time and travel time. Employers do not need to pay employees for their regular commutes, but most other travel time and training time must be paid.
Lectures, meetings and training sessions required by the employer must be paid. Training may be unpaid only if:
- It is voluntary;
- It is not during normal working hours;
- It is not directly job related; and
- No work is required during the training
Employers should be aware of any overtime liability from employees' time in training sessions. The time to travel to and from training sessions must be paid to the extent it exceeds an employee's normal commuting time. If an employee is staying overnight somewhere for training, an employer's obligation to pay the employee ends once the training session is over and the employee is free to do what he or she wants.
Whether employee travel time is work time depends on the type of travel. An employee's commute from home to work and return home after work is not work time. If an employee is required to travel to another city for the day but returns home the same day, the employer must pay the employee for the time spent traveling to the extent it exceeds the employee's normal commuting time. An employee's travel as part of his or her normal work, such as travel between job sites, must be counted as hours worked.
Time spent by an employee traveling out of town for work must be paid when it includes the hours normally worked by the employee, even if the travel is on a day the employee would not normally work. For example, if an employee usually works 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, a plane flight for work that takes place on Saturday from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. must be counted as four hours of work time. Travel time outside normal work hours spent as a passenger on an airplane, train, boat, bus, or automobile is not considered work time unless the employee is required to work while traveling. For example, if that same 9:00 to 5:00 employee takes an 8:00 p.m. to midnight flight, the flight time need not be paid unless the employee is required to work during the flight.