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October 13, 2010
Travel Time and Special Assignments

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 addressed the question of whether travel time may be compensable if an employee must travel to a different location for a specific assignment:

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  • When an employee who regularly works at a fixed location in one city is given a special one-day assignment in another city, much of the time spent traveling is work time and must be compensated. For example, an employee who works in Washington, D.C., with regular work hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., is given a special assignment in New York City, with instruction to leave Washington at 8 a.m. She arrives in New York at noon, ready for work. The special assignment is completed at 3 p.m., and the employee arrives back in Washington at 7 p.m. Such travel is not regarded as ordinary home-to-work travel and must be compensated. It was performed for the employer's benefit and at its special request to meet the needs of a particular and unusual assignment. Therefore, it would qualify as an integral part of the principal activity that the employee was hired to perform.
  • All the time involved, however, need not be counted. Except for the special assignment, the employee would have had to report to her regular worksite. The travel time between her home and the railroad station need not be compensated. Also, the usual mealtime need not be paid (29 CFR 785.37).

As it relates to training programs, meetings and lectures:

  • If attendance at these functions is required, the time must be counted as work time.
  • If employees attend an independent school, college, or trade school after hours on their own initiative, the time is not counted as hours worked, even if the courses are related to the job.

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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