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October 13, 2010
Key Legal and Administrative Issues Regarding Travel Time

In a BLR webinar entitled "Travel Pay: Proven Strategies for Avoiding the Next Big Wave of Wage and Hour Lawsuits," Mark E. Tabakman, Esq., partner in the nationwide law firm Fox Rothschild, LLP described some of the key legal and administrative issues that Human Resources departments must consider when determining whether travel time should be compensable work time.

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In addition to the context of the travel, federal laws and provisions should be front and center considerations:

  • Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
  • Portal-to-Portal Act
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which provides for equal opportunities for disabled employees to earn travel pay
  • Title VII, which provides for equal opportunities for employees in protected categories to earn travel pay
  • Equal Pay Act, which provides for equal opportunities for male and female employees to earn travel pay
  • Union contract provisions

Individual state statutes should also be taken into consideration:

  • It’s not unusual for some states to enforce their own wage and hour laws that may touch on travel pay issues. And, sometimes, state courts issue rulings that could affect the way you handle travel pay (e.g., California’s supreme court ruled recently in the Gattuso v. Harte-Hanke Shoppers case that employers have three different options for reimbursing employees for the use of their personal vehicles on the job).
  • In these instances, you should consult legal counsel to understand how these state rules interact with federal requirements under FLSA and other laws.

Finally, there are key administrative issues that Human Resources must consider:

  • Paperwork (procedures for recording travel time and notifying the payroll department)
  • Coordination with other policies (flextime, job-sharing, leaves of absence, etc.)
  • Integration with overtime policies (reporting travel time properly in order to calculate overtime; deciding how travel premiums paid to employees may affect overtime)
  • Rotations (“spreading around” the travel time, especially if premium or extra compensation is offered)

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. Also, he publishes and maintains a wage-hour blog to provide the latest information and observations on new developments in wage-hour law.

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