Employee Pay for Travel Time in New York: What Companies Should Know

Businesses in New York State should understand the rules regarding travel time under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), so that way they can ensure employees are paid properly and fairly. 

Here is what employers need to know about paying employees for travel time in New York.

When processing New York payroll, employers need to know when travel time should and should not be compensated.

When to Pay Employees for Travel Time in New York

New York State currently maintains the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regulations for non-exempt employee travel time compensation.

In some circumstances, employers may be required to pay non-exempt employees for travel time:

Type of Travel Is Travel Time Payable?
Home-to-work commute No
Traveling between worksites in the same workday Yes
Traveling to a different city and returning the same day Yes
Traveling that requires an overnight stay during regular work hours Yes
Traveling that requires an overnight stay outside of regular work hours No
Driving that is required by the employer Yes

Note: Every travel time situation is different, and different FLSA regulation may apply. The above list is not all inclusive. For additional advisement on specific travel time situations, please contact your HR Advisor and HR Generalist

What to Know About Employees Traveling Away From Home

When travel requires an overnight stay, any time spent traveling that falls within the employee’s normal working hours is compensable, regardless of the day of the week the travel takes place.

Time spent traveling to an airport terminal, for example, is considered commute time and is not treated as hours worked. Time spent waiting at the terminal on the other hand, is considered compensable when it falls during normal work hours.

Example: Jane normally works Monday-Friday, 8:30am to 5pm. She is required to travel by plane on a Sunday for business in another state. Travel time between 8:30am and 5pm on Sunday is compensable. So, if Jane arrives at the airport on Sunday at 3pm and at her destination at 7pm, the employer is required to pay her from 3pm to 5pm (during normal work hours).

What to Know About Employees Required to Drive by the Employer

When employees are required to drive themselves or others, all driving time is compensable.


However, when an employee is traveling to an overnight stay and has the option to use public transportation (plane, train, etc.), but chooses to drive their own vehicle instead, the employer can either choose to pay for all time spent traveling or pay only the travel time that occurs during normal work hours, regardless of what day of the week the employee travels.

If an employee volunteers to drive others in their own vehicle to the overnight stay, the employee’s time could be unpaid for those travel hours outside of the normal work hours.

Does Travel Time Effect Overtime Pay?

Employers should keep in mind that when pay is required for travel time, the time spent traveling is considered hours worked and must be included when determining overtime pay obligations. For more information, see this article on New York Overtime Law and Requirements.

Travel Time Compensation

Travel time pay does not need to be the employee's current regular wage, however, must still meet New York Minimum Wage Requirements.

Employers must ensure that a predetermined compensation rate is defined for travel time before employees travel. It is recommended to specify what rate (either minimum wage or regular rate) employees will be paid for travel time in your policy.

Creating a Handbook Policy for Employee Travel Time

It is important to have a clear travel time policy outlined for employees if you are a business in New York State. Companies that fall out of compliance with travel time pay laws may find themselves facing serious New York labor law penalties and fines.

Businesses without such a policy, or who are unsure whether their policy is up-to-date should reach out to a New York HR Outsourcing Company for help. 

To see how EBC's New York HR Services are already helping countless companies with things such as employee handbook development and review on things such as Travel Time Policies, contact us today.

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