There are both federal and state compensation laws regarding travel time. These statutes are complex, and it may be difficult to know for sure whether your employer is following these laws or refusing to pay you for the time you worked. We can help you understand how these laws apply to your specific situation and take action to recover any unpaid travel time wages owed to you.

If you have questions about travel time in North Carolina, speak with employment lawyer Phil Gibbons. We can help you understand how much money your employer owes you, and your options for recovering any unpaid travel time wages. Call us today at 704-612-0038 to schedule a free case evaluation.

When Does My Employer Have to Pay for My Daily Commute?

In most cases, your normal commute to work is not paid travel time. While you may have a normal time to arrive and leave work, the commute itself is your own time. If you want to leave early in the morning and stop for coffee, that is your choice. You can use this time as you wish, assuming you arrive on time. The same is true for the trip home.

This is also true no matter if you work in the same office day after day, or if you have a job that moves locations regularly. Some examples where your regular daily commute may vary include construction workers on different projects, food truck employees, and those who work at more than one location of a restaurant or store.

Court cases have examined whether performing some work activities prior to or during the commute will result in that time being compensable. As a general rule, activities that are “incidental” to the commute or “De Minimus” will not usually make the commute compensable. Incidental activities include receipt of job assignments, carrying ordinary tools or equipment, or loading personal equipment (laptops, manuals, briefcases, uniforms, gloves, and other safety equipment). De Minimis activities are those that are conducted infrequently or take a minimal amount of time to perform.

There are exceptions to a normal commute to and from work being non-compensable. Exceptions include performing work prior to or during the commute, reporting to a remote job site, transporting special equipment, or performing after hours or emergency work outside of a normally scheduled shift.

What If My Employer Requires I Travel During Normal Working Hours?

In the vast majority of cases, when your employer requires you to travel during the day, it must pay you for your travel time. If your boss sends you on an errand during your meal break, this is compensable work time.

The general rule to follow is that if your employer requires the trip or if it is a part of your job duties, it must compensate you for the time you spent. It does not matter if you are driving or a passenger in the vehicle.

Imagine you work at one location, but have a mid-day staff meeting you must attend across town every Thursday. Because this meeting is a part of your assigned job duties and occurs during normal working hours, your employer should compensate you for the travel time required to drive across town.

Does My Employer Have to Pay Me for an Unusual Commute?

Most people commute to the same place every day or a local job site where they will work that day. Occasionally, though, some employers may need a worker to report to a location further away.

For example, imagine your supervisor calls you and asks you to drive from Charlotte to your company’s Asheville location to work the following morning. To arrive at 9 a.m., you must leave much earlier. Instead of your usual 30-minute commute, you will need to drive for more than two hours. This is a special request, and something you are only doing for your employer’s benefit. It must pay you for this unusual commute, as well as the drive home.

In another similar scenario, imagine your employer asks you to fly to Atlanta to meet with an advertising team working on your account. You will need to drive to the airport and be on a plane by 10 a.m. The drive to the airport is similar to your normal commute, and this time may not be compensable. However, your employer must pay you for the remainder of the travel time.

Does It Matter If I Drive a Company Vehicle?

If you drive a company vehicle to and from work, the “Employee Commuting Flexibility Act” (“ECFA”) may apply to your daily commute. The ECFA provides that employees need not be compensated for the time they spend commuting in employer-provided vehicles so long as the following three conditions are met:

  1. The employer and employee have an agreement regarding the employee’s use of the employer’s vehicle for commuting;
  2. The employee’s travel to his or her job site(s) is within his or her normal commuting area; and 
  3. The activities the employees perform before and after their commute are “incidental” to their use of the employer’s vehicle for commuting.

Many people who drive a company vehicle do so because their job requires extensive driving during the workday, which your employer must compensate. For example, if you make deliveries regularly in a company truck, your commute to work in the truck is not paid. However, your employer must compensate you for the travel time on the deliveries you make during the day.

Phil Gibbons, Charlotte, NC, Employee Rights Lawyer, Can Help You Recover Unpaid Travel Time Wages.

Travel time laws are complex. Phil Gibbons can go over your employee contract, paystubs, and job duties to determine whether your employer owes you compensation for any travel time. If so, Phil will build a strong case and pursue your employer for any owed wages.

Call Gibbons Law Group today at 704-612-0038.