Must My Employer Pay Me if I Travel Between Work Locations During the Course of the Day?

Erin Medeiros

More and more healthcare workers are required to travel between hospitals or clinic sites in the course of their workday.  State and federal laws require many hourly paid employees to be paid for all hours worked. If you are an hourly paid healthcare worker and your employer requires you to travel from site to site in the course of your workday, then you must be paid for this time.

Traveling between hospitals and/or clinics is not the same as traveling between work and home for your shift.  Travel to and from work for the start and end of your shift is generally not compensable.  It is considered ordinary home to work travel.  However, if you are performing a work activities during the commute (such as responding to phone calls) then your employer may be required to compensate you for the time worked.  Such activities could be answering and making telephone calls or emailing with co-workers concerning patient needs during your commute.  If you think the work you perform during your commute to and from work is more than just minimal give us a call.

Meanwhile, if you are an hourly paid employee and are required to travel between worksites during the course of your shift, then it is likely that you should be compensated for that time.  The type of transportation used does not matter; whether you travel by walking, public transit, or driving a company or personal vehicle, you should be compensated for all hours worked.  Even if you do not perform any other work activities during your travel from site to site, it is still considered compensable time.

For example, an hourly paid Nurse Practitioner (NP) typically works at two (2) locations during the course of her day – a hospital and the practice’s office.  She begins working every morning by seeing patients at the hospital.  She travels to the hospital from home by car and performs no work on her commute.  It takes her 1 hour to arrive at the hospital at 7a.m. Her employer is not required to pay her for this home to work travel time.

Then by 10a.m., she must leave the hospital and drive 20 minutes to the office for the beginning her out-patient appointments at 10:30a.m.  Whether the NP makes or receives calls or simply sings along with songs on the radio during this 20-minute period, she likely must be compensated for this time.

That same day, the NP leaves the office at around 6:00 p.m. and travels home.  During her commute, she makes and receives calls from her office, doctors, other NPs, and pharmacists regarding patient needs until she arrives home at 7:20 p.m.  The NP’s employer may be required to pay her for this time when she performed work even though she was commuting home.

If you are an hourly paid employee and think that you are not being paid for the time spent commuting between work sites, give us a call.  We look forward to discussing your concerns with you. Contact us at (414) 240-1185.