What Is Overtime Travel?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Overtime travel is work-related travel that occurs during overtime hours, allowing the employee to collect overtime compensation for the hours worked. Regulations pertaining to overtime travel vary by nation, and some industries have their own protections and regulations that may come into play with travel compensation. Generally, employees can be paid for travel if it is undertaken by order or request and directly involves work activities, and if the travel causes the employee to go into overtime, that employee gets additional pay.

Daily commutes cannot typically be claimed as work hours.
Daily commutes cannot typically be claimed as work hours.

Employees cannot claim work hours for commutes, even when they have to go out of their way because of construction, bad weather, or other issues, unless they work during the commute. Thus, an employee who drives to and from work wouldn’t receive compensation for that. Conversely, an employee who rides a shuttle provided by the employer who works on board would be compensated. Overtime travel laws are especially clear on this point when employees are expected to work while traveling to and from the job site.

Workers may claim hours during a commute if they perform work duties during that commute.
Workers may claim hours during a commute if they perform work duties during that commute.

Travel undertaken during the business day to perform work activities can also qualify for overtime travel. This includes travel between job sites, pickups and deliveries, and similar activities. Driving to lunch, on the other hand, would not qualify, because the employee is on a break. Employees can also challenge suggestions that they should schedule work-related trips for their breaks, as such trips are technically work and would cut into legally mandated break time.

Overtime travel may include going to a work conference.
Overtime travel may include going to a work conference.

If an employer issues an order or request to undertake travel for work purposes, like driving a truck to a job site or dropping off documentation, it is considered work, and the employee is entitled to compensation. If it looks like the travel will cause the employee to go into overtime, it may be advisable to bring this up with a supervisor. Some workplaces require overtime authorization, and may order employees to go home early on another day to make up the difference if they accidentally spill into overtime hours.

Travel during the business day can qualify for overtime travel, including travel between job sites.
Travel during the business day can qualify for overtime travel, including travel between job sites.

Overtime compensation can be legally complex, especially with issues like travel. Some forms of travel fall into a gray area where the obligations of an employer may be unclear. Employees who are not sure about an employer’s position on travel may want to specifically ask when requested to travel for work. If they feel the employer is in error with an overtime travel policy, they could request information from a government agency that handles labor rights.

Compensation for airfare is sometimes included in overtime travel.
Compensation for airfare is sometimes included in overtime travel.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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