California: Commuting Time may be Compensable – Depending on Certain Factors

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June 2, 2020

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In Oliver v. Konica Minolta Business Solutions USA, Inc., a California court stated that an employee’s commuting time to the first worksite of the day may be compensable time, depending on the level of control an employer exerts on the employee’s commute, and whether the employee may use commuting time for personal pursuits as well as business operations.

 

In Oliver, employees alleged that the employer needed to pay for the time and expense spent commuting to the worksite, because the employees were required to transport tools and equipment in their personal vehicles to the worksite, constituting a sufficient level of employer “control” over their commute time to equate it to working hours.  Upon closer review, it was determined that there is no singular “bright line” test to determine if a commute must be compensated.  Rather, an employer must examine any factors that limit or exert an employer’s control over an employee’s commuting time. For example:

  • In Oliver, the employer argued that employees had the option of leaving tools and supplies at specified field locations, and were not required to take them home and transport them back to the worksite each night. If transportation of the tools and equipment were truly optional, the commuting time is not considered compensable.
  • Additionally, commuting time is not compensable if the transportation of equipment does not prevent employees from utilizing commuting time for personal pursuits, such as running errands or picking up/dropping off children to school on the way.
  • However, variation in tools and equipment and size of personal vehicles made it impossible for some employees to utilize commute time for personal pursuits (e.g., equipment occupied all passenger space, meaning employee could not run errands or pick up children). In this case, the issue of “control” would need to be more closely assessed and is most likely compensable.

Action Items

  1. Review travel requirements to worksites to determine appropriate compensation under applicable wage and hour rules.
  2. Subscribers can call our HR On-Call Hotline at (888) 378-2456 for further assistance.

Disclaimer: This document is designed to provide general information and guidance concerning employment-related issues. It is presented with the understanding that ManagEase is not engaged in rendering any legal opinions. If a legal opinion is needed, please contact the services of your own legal adviser.

© 2020 ManagEase

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