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Travel Pay Laws in California: What Employees Need to Know

California Travel Pay Laws

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Sometimes our employers require us to travel for work-related purposes. But what aspects of employee travel are California employers required to pay for? Travel pay in California can be a confusing area of law, but the following overview can help you navigate the ins and outs of travel pay laws in the California workplace.

Understanding Travel Pay Laws in California

As a general rule, California employees are paid for all of their time spent working, and this includes time that an employee spends traveling for work. If an employee is eligible for overtime compensation, and the employee's travel time puts him or her over the standard forty-hour work week, then the employee should be paid overtime compensation accordingly. Yet all employees know that their commute to and from work is generally not considered time they spend working. So at what point does the time an employee spends behind the wheel, on a subway or train, or in a taxi for work become compensable travel time?

  • Compensable travel time must be considered hours worked. If your employer controls you during the time you spend traveling, or you are permitted to work during travel time, then you should be compensated as these hours are considered hours worked.
  • If travel is made on an employer-selected route. If you travel along an employer-selected route, then you are under your employer's control and should be compensated for the travel time.
  • If travel is for the purpose of delivering work-related items. If you are required to use your vehicle to deliver work-related items - such as tools to a worksite, or food to hungry customers at their homes - then the time traveled is considered hours worked and you should be paid for the travel time.
  • Time spent getting to job functions may be compensable. If you spend time getting to a meeting or conference that is work-related, it is likely compensable travel time. Similarly, time spent getting to an alternative worksite from your home, or to an airport or train station for work-related travel is usually compensable travel time.
  • Reimbursement for work-related vehicle use. Additionally, you should be reimbursed for wear and tear and mileage associated with work-related travel, under California Labor Code Section 2802.

Compensated travel time is important to employees who must travel for work. California employees must be notified of the travel rate in advance, and the travel rate cannot be less than minimum wage. Sometimes travel time is compensated at a different rate than normal hours worked, but employees who are eligible for compensated travel time should be paid accordingly under California law.

In conclusion, California employees who travel for work are often entitled to travel pay. If you believe that you should have received travel pay, but were not compensated by your employer, please consult with an experienced California employment lawyer regarding the matter. Get a free consultation today.

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