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Does your employer have to compensate you for travel time?

Many oil and gas workers and other employees here in West Virginia do a lot of driving in connection to their work. Are workers entitled to compensation for their travel time?

It depends on the specifics of the travel. There are federal rules in place regarding what does and does not count as work time for compensation and overtime purposes. Some types of travel time qualify as work time under these rules, while others do not.

We’ll start with one of the most common types of travel for workers, driving between work and home before and after their shift. Such trips to and from work are generally not work time, and thus workers typically are not entitled to compensation for them. There is an exception, however. This is when a person who normally works in one city is given a one-day assignment to work in another. The drive to and from work for this special assignment usually is work time. However, when determining the compensation for this time, an employer can deduct the amount of travel time that the worker usually spends on his or her normal commute.

What about special overnight trips? A variety of factors can impact whether travel time spent on work trips that keep a worker away from home overnight is or isn’t compensable work time. Any such travel done during a workers’ normal work hours typically counts as work time (whether or not the travel occurred on an employee’s regular work days). Meanwhile, passenger travel done outside of normal working hours generally does not, under current enforcement policies.

What about travel during the work day, such as driving between work sites and travel connected to performing work tasks? Such travel is typically work time that a worker is supposed to be paid for.

As this illustrates, employees have wage rights when it comes to certain types of travel. What if an employer fails to pay an employee for travel that qualifies as compensable work time? In such situations, there are generally legal steps that workers can take to try to recover the compensation that they were denied. Skilled employment law attorneys can assist workers subjected to wage violations related to compensable travel time with pursuing such steps.


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