Can an employer force its employees to stay away from their home towns during time off so the company can save on travel expenses?

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Can an employer force its employees to stay away from their home towns during time off so the company can save on travel expenses?

I work for a subcontractor of a major communications company. The work involves travel all over the country. If I finish a project in one market on a Friday, I am forced to stay in that market until they decide where I will start to work on Monday. I was told the only way I could go home is if I incur the cost of the flights to get home and then back to where work will begin in a new market on Monday. I am not paid for my time over this weekend. The company covers hotel and transportation but no food costs and per diem is not provided. I am never paid for my travel time.

Asked on November 5, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Oregon

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Yes, a company  can do this:

1) A company is NOT required to reimburse employees for travel or hotel, provide a per diem, or otherwise pay for business travel; it can require them to pay the costs themselves, legally, though most companies don't do that for obvious reasons (few people, even in this economy, would work for them). Since a company controls whether and to the extent employees are reimbursed, it can set terms and conditions or limitations on when they are reimbursed for travel--including not paying them to travel home between assignments.

2) If you are not working on the weekend, the company does not need to pay you, even if you are not working in a different location.


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