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August 21, 2010
Compensating Drive Time Versus Public Transportation

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, described wage and hour rules for driving vs. public transportation:

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  • What happens if you ask an employee to use public transportation while traveling on business, but he/she decides to drive a personal vehicle instead? You may count as hours worked either (a) the time spent driving the car or (b) the time it would have taken to make the trip via public transportation.
  • For example, if employees decide to travel to a nearby city for a work assignment in their own vehicles (a four-hour drive), instead of taking the two-hour train ride, you may opt to treat either the two hours or the four hours as work (compensable) time.
  • Of course, if an employee is required to drive his or her car, the employer must count all time spent en route as hours worked, regardless of whether or not the hours were normal working hours.

Mark E. Tabakman, Esq., is a partner in the nationwide law firm Fox Rothschild, LLP ( 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 ( She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in financial accounting and taxation.

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