DOL Issues Guidance Addressing Whether Certain Telework-Related Travel is Compensable

In Opinion Letter FLSA2020-19, the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) provided guidance on whether an employee who works remotely for part of the day and works at the office for the remainder of the day while doing personal tasks in between must receive compensation for travel time between home and office.

There were two examples provided in the Opinion Letter:

#1: Employee has a school conference in the afternoon and leaves work at 1 p.m. After the conference, she drives home and resumes work. The question posed under this scenario is whether the employee’s travel time between work and school and then school and home is compensable depending on whether the employee (1) immediately starts work when she returns home; (2) spends an hour on personal activities at home and then resumes work; (3) spends two hours on personal activities at home and then resumes work; or (4) spends an hour on personal activities before driving home, then spends an hour on personal activities at home before resuming work. 

#2: Employee has an early morning doctor’s appointment and has permission to work from home before driving to her appointment, after which she will drive to the office to continue working. The questions posed under this scenario are whether the employee is entitled to compensation for travel time from home to her appointment and then to the office, and if her commute time from her office to home (where she started her work day) is compensable?

According to the Opinion Letter, none of the travel time noted in the above scenarios is compensable since the employee was either off duty, engaged in normal commuting, or the travel was not worksite-to-worksite travel compensable under the continuous workday doctrine. 

In its conclusion, the Opinion Letter states that “when an employee (a) chooses to perform some work before traveling to the office or (b) chooses to perform work at home after leaving the office, and in either case has sufficient time in between her telework and office work periods to use effectively for her own purposes, the time she spends traveling between home and office is not compensable.”

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