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Employee Wage Payment and Travel Time: The Obligation to Clock Out During Inter-Job Site Travel in New York

As employees navigate between job sites, the issue of whether they are required to clock out during inter-job site travel arises. The determination of whether this time constitutes compensable work under New York State Law and Federal Law is critical to ensure fair wage payment practices.

The New York City employment lawyers at The Samuel Law Firm explain more below.

I. New York State Law

Under New York Labor Law (NYLL), compensable work hours are defined as all time during which an employee is “suffered or permitted to work” by their employer. In the context of inter-job site travel, the key question is whether this time is considered “hours worked.”

II. Portal-to-Portal Act and Federal Law

The Portal-to-Portal Act, a federal law, provides guidance on whether certain travel time is compensable under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The Act states that ordinary commuting time to and from work is generally not considered compensable work hours. However, the Act also includes the “workday” concept, which encompasses activities that are integral and indispensable to the principal activities for which employees are employed.

III. Control and Restrictions

One crucial factor that courts consider in determining whether inter-job site travel time is compensable is the degree of control an employer exercises over the employee during this time. If an employee has restrictions on their activities while traveling or is required to use specific routes, this could indicate that the employer is exercising sufficient control to make it compensable work.

IV. Engaged to Wait vs. Waiting to be Engaged

A significant distinction exists between “engaged to wait” and “waiting to be engaged.” Employees who are “engaged to wait,” meaning they have to perform specific tasks while waiting, are generally entitled to compensation. On the other hand, employees who are merely “waiting to be engaged,” without any assigned duties, may not be eligible for compensation during this time.

V. Continuous Workday Doctrine

The Continuous Workday Doctrine, recognized by some courts, considers the entire period between an employee’s first and last principal activities as a single workday. If inter-job site travel occurs within this period, it may be deemed compensable under this doctrine.

VI. De Minimis Rule

Under the de minimis rule, minimal periods of time that are difficult to track and record are considered insignificant and are, therefore, non-compensable. If inter-job site travel time is relatively short and irregular, it might fall under this exception.

VII. Collective Bargaining Agreements

For employees covered by collective bargaining agreements (CBAs), the terms outlined in the agreement may govern travel time compensation. CBAs often include specific provisions regarding wage payment during travel time.

VIII. New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) Guidelines

The NYSDOL has issued guidelines on compensable travel time, particularly for home care aides and live-in employees. It’s essential for employees and employers to understand these guidelines to ensure compliance with state laws.

IX. Record Keeping and Wage Payment Issues

Maintaining accurate records of hours worked, including inter-job site travel time, is crucial for both employees and employers. Failure to keep proper records can lead to wage payment disputes and potential legal issues.

Conclusion

Determining whether an employee is required to clock out during travel between job sites in New York involves a careful analysis of state and federal laws, as well as the specific circumstances surrounding the travel. The control exerted by the employer, the nature of the employee’s activities during travel, and the existence of any collective bargaining agreements are essential factors in this determination.

Employees who believe their wage payment rights have been violated during inter-job site travel or any other work-related activity should seek professional legal assistance. The attorneys at The Samuel Law Firm in New York, New York, possess extensive expertise in employment law and wage payment issues. We are dedicated to advocating for employees’ rights and ensuring fair compensation under the law.

For a comprehensive evaluation of your wage payment issue, contact The Samuel Law Firm for a consultation. Remember, understanding your rights as an employee is essential in protecting yourself from potential wage violations and securing fair compensation for your hard work.

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