I have asked one of my non-exempt employees to attend a conference in Seattle, Washington. I would like to know if I am required to pay her for the time spent traveling to and from Seattle and if I am, what should be the rate of pay. Also, what laws apply to travel time? The employee in question regularly works in Monterey from 8 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday. On Friday she will work until 3 pm in Monterey, then fly to Seattle and arrive at a hotel near the airport around 8 pm. She will attend the conference from 8 am to 3 pm on Saturday and board a flight scheduled to arrive in Monterey around 7:30 pm.


Non-exempt hourly employees are required to be compensated for all hours worked. California wage orders define the term “hours worked” to mean the time during which an employee is “suffered or permitted to work,” whether or not required to do so, and the time during which an employee is subject to the employer’s control.

The time spent traveling to and from an event where attendance is required by the employer constitutes hours worked, whether the travel time takes place during regular work hours, and whether or not the business trip includes an overnight stay. (See California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) Opinion Letter at Therefore, time spent driving, as a passenger in a car, taxi, bus, train, or airplane, or other mode of transportation, or time spent waiting in traffic, to purchase a ticket, check baggage, or get on board, is time spent under the employer’s control: the employee is carrying out employer’s objectives of traveling to and from the conference in Seattle. Such time is compensable travel time. In the situation you described, you are required to provide travel pay for the time on Friday from 3 pm to 8 pm and on Saturday from 3 pm to 7:30 pm.

If the total hours worked, including travel time, exceed eight hours in one workday, you are required to pay overtime at one and one-half times the non-exempt employee’s regular rate of pay for hours worked in excess of eight hours.

California law allows employers to establish a different rate of pay for travel time, as long as the rate set is not less than the minimum wage. (See DLSE Opinion Letter at
In order to pay a different rate for travel time, you must notify the employee of the different travel time pay rate prior to the commencement of travel. For determining overtime pay when you establish a different rate of pay for travel time, California uses the “weighted average” method under which all hours worked in the week are added and the result is divided into the total compensation paid for the week. If you pay a different rate for travel time, any overtime pay would be calculated at one and one-half times the “weighted average” rate.

Travel pay rules can be tricky. Remember to have your non-exempt employee record all of her time, including travel time, on her timesheet so she can be paid properly.
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