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Employee Not Entitled to Pay for Commuting Time Due to Post-Commute Work at Home

    Client Alerts
  • May 27, 2011

Employers are universally aware that non-exempt employees are not entitled to be paid for time spent commuting to and from work. After arriving at work, time spent during the day traveling from one job location to another is generally considered compensable working time. How should employers treat time spent traveling from a job site to an employee's home office? Does working from home after arriving mean that the return drive was not commuting time?

Fortunately for employers, a new decision from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals preserves the commuting time concept. In Kuebel v. Black & Decker, Inc., the plaintiffs were Retail Specialists who worked from their homes. They spent their time traveling from store to store, training employees and making sure retail displays were proper. After their last store visit of the day, the plaintiffs returned home and spent about 30 minutes submitting reports and answering e-mails. The plaintiffs contended that because they continued working after arriving at home, the time spent driving home was compensable travel time during the workday.

The Second Circuit rejected this theory, affirming summary judgment for the employer. The court noted that Black & Decker did not specify when the Retail Specialists had to complete this administrative work. If the employee is relieved of duties after arriving at home, the FLSA considers the commuting time to be non-compensable, regardless of whether the employee later performs work from home at his or her determination.

The case made clear that the work performed at home was compensable working time, and Black & Decker had employees keep accurate records of such time spent performing administrative tasks.