Travel and training outside the workday:
Overtime or not?

The extent to which non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime compensation for travel and training is very confusing. Employers should follow basic rules regarding overtime compensation for travel, trips and training for non-exempt employees.

Time spent by employees in travel as part of their principal work activity, such as travel from job site-to-job site or office-to-office during the normal workday, is work time. It must be counted as hours worked. This is commonly referred to as travel that is all in a day's work.

Travel away from home, which keeps an employee away from home overnight, is considered work time when it occurs during the employee's normal workday. If the travel occurs during normal work hours on a non-workday, such as a Saturday, that travel time is also compensable. During travel away from home, time spent at a hotel sleeping or for the employee's own purposes is not compensable.

As a general enforcement policy, the U.S. Department of Labor does not consider as work time the time spent on an airplane, a train, a boat, a bus or in a car, when in travel away from home outside of normal, regular working hours. An exception is when an employee performs work while traveling, e.g., preparing for a meeting, reviewing documents, making phone calls and the like. This time constitutes hours worked—even if the travel time is otherwise non-compensable.

With regard to training programs, attendance at lectures, meetings, training sessions and similar activities need not be counted as working time only if four criteria are met: the activity is outside normal working hours; it is voluntary; it is not job-related; and no other work for the employer is concurrently performed. If these four prongs are not met, then training time is considered as compensable hours worked.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about overtime compensation issues.

—Matthew T. Fitzsimmons