BPHR’s Director Lisa Salcido, SPHR, SHRM-SCP provides actionable answers to your pressing HR questions.
Question: A few times a month I task my assistant with stopping at the FedEx office because it’s along her route home from work. She’s non-exempt and wants to be paid for this time but it’s my understanding that we do not have to pay for time spent commuting. Am I required to pay her?
Answer: Generally, employers do not need to pay employees for time spent traveling from their homes to their work location before the start of the workday or traveling from their workplace to their homes after the workday has ended. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) clarified “compensable working time,” in respects to travel, with the Portal-to-Portal Act amendment. The Portal-to-Portal Act provides that employers are not required to pay for the time employees spend on activities occurring before or after they perform the principal activities for which they are employed.
Also, an employer is generally not obligated to pay for work time that is deemed “de minimis” or “insubstantial” (a few seconds or minutes too meager to measure). This includes incidental activities before or after work. If your employee were simply dropping a letter in a mailbox, that would be too insignificant to be paid.
In your case, while commuting from work to home, your non-exempt employee is running an authorized work-related errand, under employer control. The FedEx office visit could consist of packing, shipping and waiting in line. This time could reasonably add up. Non-exempt employees must be paid for travel that is outside of their normal work to home commute, so this would be compensable time.
Alternatively, she can visit FedEx during her normal working hours or you can arrange for FedEx pick-up.
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DISCLAIMER: The material presented on this page is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or legal opinion