Q&A: Business Travel and the New Overtime Regulations

© 2005 Door & Access Systems
Publish Date: Summer 2005
Author: Naomi Angel
Page 74


Q&A: Business Travel and the New Overtime Regulations
By Naomi R. Angel, NCCA Legal Counsel

The U.S. Department of Labor issued new regulations governing overtime pay on Aug. 23, 2004. In the spring 2005 issue of Door & Access Systems, we presented some answers to common questions about the new rules. In this issue, we devote our attention to overtime questions about business travel.

Business travel rules would apply to door dealers when they send employees to a trade show like Expo or to install doors in a remote city. The new rules affect exempt and nonexempt employees. In general, exempt employees are salaried, and nonexempt employees are paid by the hour. (See our spring 2005 story for specifics.)

How is “travel time” defined by the government?

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), travel time is “actually worked” when it occurs on weekdays or during normal working hours on weekends. Many state laws expand this rule to require that all travel time, regardless of the time of the travel, be counted. Check with your attorney for your state requirements.

What are employers required to do for exempt employees who travel on business?

The old and new rules do not require employers to pay overtime to exempt employees for work beyond the 40-hour week limit, or to pay travel time, or to provide compensatory time off. Nothing has changed in that regard.

If we send hourly installers to Expo, when is their out-of-town travel time eligible for overtime pay?

If a nonexempt employee stays overnight in another city, travel occurring during normal working hours, e.g., 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., regardless of the day of the week, is considered time worked. Compensable work time commences when the employee reaches the airport (or other transportation vendor site) during regular working hours.

Time worked on site out of town (e.g., at Expo workshops) and travel back during normal working hours is added to the work week computation. Travel time after regular working hours on overnight trips is not compensable.

A different rule applies when all of the travel occurs on one day. For example, if a nonexempt employee leaves a Chicago airport at 6:00 a.m. and travels to a meeting in Nashville and returns to the Chicago airport at 7:00 p.m. the same day, all of the hours are work time.

If the employee drives rather than flies to Nashville or any out of town meeting, the same travel time considerations for overnight and same-day travel apply.

What if a nonexempt employee works after hours while traveling?

Any time spent actually working while traveling is compensable work time, whether it is during or after normal hours.

What if a nonexempt employee travels to a local meeting, such as for the Raising the Door Tour?

Travel time from home to the meeting site, e.g., a hotel, is regarded as non-compensable commuting time until it exceeds the employee’s normal commuting time to the office. If the employee went to the office first to pick up materials for the meeting, or went to the hotel after spending part or all of the day at the office, travel time from the office to the hotel would be work time.

If an installer (a nonexempt employee) travels out of town to install doors at a distant location, when does the work day begin?

If the installer starts the day at a morning meeting, the work day commences at the start of the meeting. Otherwise, work time includes all of the time on the job site during the work day and evening when the employee was required to perform business functions.

For detailed explanations of the revised overtime rules, see the U.S. Department of Labor Web site at www.dol.gov.

This article is provided solely for informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice. If you have specific questions or concerns about a legal issue, consult your company’s legal counsel for guidance.