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August 21, 2010
Key Commuting Issue That Applies to Wage and Hour

In a BLR webinar entitled "Mileage/Commuting Expenses: How to Avoid Big Mistakes With These Employee Expenses," Mark E. Tabakman, Esq., partner in the nationwide law firm Fox Rothschild, LLP and Stacy Wade, Ph.D., CPA, assistant professor of accounting at Western Kentucky University, explained that for employees who drive or commute for business purposes, there is a "Golden Wage and Hour Rule" that applies in almost every situation:

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  • The key issue in many cases is whether an employee is engaged in travel as part of the employer's principal activity or for the convenience of the employer.
  • If so, then that employee's driving or commuting time is probably compensable.
  • The time employees spend commuting to and from their regular place of work each day is not work time, so employers do not have to pay employees for this time.
  • Again, normal travel from home to work is not work time. This is true whether the employee works at a fixed location or at different jobsites (29 CFR 785.35).
  • The commuting time includes any time spent walking from the parking lot to the worksite.

Mark E. Tabakman, Esq., is a partner in the nationwide law firm Fox Rothschild, LLP (www.wagehourlaw.foxrothschild.com). He advises clients throughout the country on all aspects of labor relations and employment law, as well as the development of corporate employment policies. Stacy Wade, Ph.D., CPA, is assistant professor of accounting at Western Kentucky University (www.wku.edu). She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in financial accounting and taxation.

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