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Employment Law/Travel Time for Hourly Shift Employee

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Question
Is the employer expected to pay for travel time for an employee to attend a training seminar who is hourly, non-exempt, with a normal work schedule consisting of two 24 hour shifts per week? The travel to the training seminar consisted of 10 hours by plane. While the training was not mandatory, it was for benefit of the company. The company paid for the cost of the training seminar.

Answer
Anita,

While it is not entirely clear to me the timeframe in which this travel is taking place, if going to the training seminar requires an overnight trip, this would be considered "work time" to the extent your travel occurs within your regular working hours - regardless of the day on which you travel.  The Department of Labor has, however, long taken the position that it will not consider as work time that time spent in travel away from home outside of regular working hours as a passenger on an airplane, train, boat, bus, or automobile.

If attending the training seminar is considered a special one day assignment in another city and you return home the same day, the time spent in traveling to and returning from the other city should be counted as "work time".  Your employer may, however, deduct the amount of time you would normally spend commuting to your regular job site.

I'd also mention that there are special rules that apply to determining whether the time you spend at the training seminar should be treated as "work time".  Unless the following four criteria are met, the time should be counted:

(a) Attendance is outside of the employee’s regular
working hours;
(b) Attendance is in fact voluntary;
(c) The course, lecture, or meeting is not directly
related to the employee’s job; and
(d) The employee does not perform any productive
work during such attendance

By your pointing out that your are an hourly non-exempt employee, it does appear that you are aware of the fact that you will be due overtime pay for any/all of these hours that would put you over 40 work hours for the week.

I hope you find this information helpful.  For further specific guidance and information, you can take a look at http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/WH1312.pdf and/or contact the Department of Labor [1-866-4-USA-DOL / www.dol.gov].

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Michael Lore

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