Can I be reimbursed for my travel time to client’s offices as a part-time employee working from home?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Written by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Jul 15, 2021

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If your client’s offices are not your primary workplace (which appears to be your home), you should be paid for your travel time if you are an hourly employee. If you are salaried, then your salary covers all your work time, travel or otherwise. If your primary workplace is your home–where you do “all paperwork”–then travel to or from the client’s office is work time.

Whether employees are paid—or not paid—for work- or business-related travel can be a very complicated issue, mostly because everyone’s work and travel situation is different. However, while it would be a good idea to consult in person with an attorney about the specifics of your own situation, the rule of thumb (which should cover 90%+ of cases) is that when you travel away from your primary work location, the travel time is work time. This would include going to clients’ offices, which means that if you are hourly employee, you would be paid for this travel.

The basic rule is that anything you do for work or at your employer’s request is work. The one main exception is your normal daily commute to and from your office, or wherever you primarily work. That is not work time, and work begins when you get to the office and ends when you leave it. But other travel for work at your employer’s request or for the job, such as to clients’ offices is considered work—you are only doing it for your employer, as part of the job, and that makes it work. And since it is work, if you are an hourly employee, your time spent traveling must be tracked and you must be paid for it. This includes receiving overtime, if and when your travel time pushes you over 40 hours of work in a single week.

In the case of an hourly employee, whether full- or part-time, who works from home, his or her home is the office: that’s his or her primary worksite or location. Too, whenever he or she has to travel elsewhere from it for work, such as going to a client’s office, that travel is work time and must be paid the same way all work time must be paid for hourly employees. (There is no unpaid work time for hourly employees: whether it is attending a meeting, doing paperwork or filing out reports, or even picking up the boss’s laundry, if that’s the boss wants you to do, it is work for which you must be paid.)

Notice the repeated wording “for hourly employees.” That is because a salaried employee’s weekly salary—regardless of whether he or she is part time or full time—is the only or total compensation which the employee gets for all work, including business travel, he or she does that week. So, no matter how many trips the salaried employees take, how much time he or she spends traveling, etc., he or she will not get additional pay for traveling to clients’ locations. Salaried employees can be required to engage in extensive travel without additional compensation.

The above is the general rule. There are different rules for overnight travel for work.

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