If you are someone who works in the construction industry, it’s reasonable to expect your employer to pay you for all the time that you work. But what about the time it takes you to travel from company headquarters to a job site and back? Or what if you’re driving to and from multiple construction sites throughout the workday? Do you get paid for the time it takes to travel to these locations? There can be a lot of confusion when it comes to paid travel time for construction workers, both by employers and employees, which may eventually result in a wage dispute. Here’s what you need to know.
What qualifies as compensable travel time?
According to the US Department of Labor: “Time spent by an employee in travel as part of their principal activity, such as travel from job site to job site during the workday, is work time and must be counted as hours worked.” Put differently, you should be paid for any travel time that’s within the scope of your work.
For instance, if you are required to report to company headquarters before you travel to a work site, the time it takes you to get from one location to the other is considered time spent working. When an employer denies a worker pay for compensable travel time, the worker may consider pursuing a claim to recover unpaid wages or overtime.
Other examples of paid travel time
From a legal standpoint, your employer does not have to pay you for your commute from home to work and from work to home. That commute does not fall within the scope of your employment.
Situations where you generally should be eligible for paid travel time include:
- Traveling during the workday. Again, your employer has to pay you for any travel time that takes place within your workday. For instance, if your shift ends at 5 p.m. on a job site but you're asked to travel back to company headquarters to unload equipment, you are traveling within the scope of your work. You should therefore be compensated for your travel time.
- Traveling from home to work in another city. If you are required to travel to a different location or work site in another city as a special one-day assignment and then return home the same day, you should be compensated for the time you spend traveling to and from the other city. This is the case as long as the assignment is outside of your normal work location.
- Traveling overnight. Any travel you do in the scope of your employment that keeps you away from home overnight is considered travel away from home. This type of travel can be considered compensable under certain circumstances.
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Ohio Minimum Fair Wage Standards Act, non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours in one work week. That includes time spent traveling during the workday. If you weren’t paid for the time that you spent traveling or you were denied overtime pay because your employer didn’t count the time you spent traveling for work, a wage law attorney can fight to help you recover the compensation you’re entitled to.
You deserve to be paid for your work
Companies can’t just pay construction workers for the time they spend on the job site and the job site only. If you have to travel from company headquarters to a work site and then from a work site back to company headquarters, that counts as time spent working. Unfortunately, there are a lot of construction workers who are owed thousands of dollars in unpaid travel time by their employers. Trying to recover that pay can be extraordinarily difficult due to the complex laws involving paid travel time. So, hiring an experienced attorney who knows how to handle your case is in your best interest.
The dedicated legal team at Nilges Draher LLC has helped thousands of non-exempt employees recover unpaid travel time, including a $4.9 million settlement for construction workers who weren’t paid for traveling to work sites away from home that required an overnight stay. If you think you might have a case involving unpaid travel time, contact us right away for a free consultation. We have offices in Massillon, Cleveland, and Columbus. We proudly serve clients in Ohio and across the U.S.