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Pay & Leave Work Schedules

Fact Sheet: Hours of Work for Travel

Description

In limited circumstances, travel time may be considered hours of work. The rules on travel hours of work depend on whether an employee is covered by or exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). For FLSA-exempt employees, the crediting of travel time as hours of work is governed under title 5 rules-in particular, 5 U.S.C. 5542(b)(2) and 5544(a)(3) and 5 CFR 550.112(g) and (j). For FLSA-covered employees, travel time is credited if it is qualifying hours of work under either the title 5 rules or under OPM's FLSA regulations-in particular, 5 CFR 551.401(h) and 551.422.

Employee Coverage

Title 5 overtime laws and regulations apply to most FLSA-exempt Federal employees, including General Schedule and prevailing rate employees. Certain employees, such as members of the Senior Executive Service, are not eligible for overtime pay or other premium pay under title 5. (See 5 U.S.C. 5541(2) and 5 CFR 550.101 for coverage rules.)

OPM's FLSA regulations apply to most FLSA-covered Federal employees. (See 5 U.S.C. 5542(b)(2) and 5544(a)(3) and 5 CFR 551.102.) An employee may determine his or her FLSA status by checking block 35 of the most recent Notification of Personnel Action (SF-50) to find out whether his or her position is nonexempt (N) or exempt (E) from the overtime pay provisions of the FLSA. Alternatively, an employee may obtain a determination from his or her servicing personnel office.

Overtime Work

In general, overtime hours are hours of work that are ordered or approved (or are "suffered or permitted" for FLSA-covered employees) and are performed by an employee in excess of 8 hours in a day or 40 hours in a workweek. (See 5 U.S.C. 5542(a), 5544(a), and 6121(6) and (7), and 5 CFR 550.111 and 551.501. Note exceptions.)

Travel That is Hours of Work Under Title 5

Under 5 U.S.C. 5542(b)(2) and 5 CFR 550.112(g), official travel away from an employee's official duty station is hours of work if the travel is-

  • within the days and hours of the employee's regularly scheduled administrative workweek, including regularly scheduled overtime hours, or
  • outside the hours of the employee's regularly scheduled administrative workweek, is ordered or approved, andmeets one of the following four conditions-
    • involves the performance of work while traveling (such as driving a loaded truck);
    • is incident to travel that involves the performance of work while traveling (such as driving an empty truck back to the point of origin);
    • is carried out under arduous and unusual conditions (e.g., travel on rough terrain or under extremely severe weather conditions); or
    • results from an event that could not be scheduled or controlled administratively by any individual or agency in the executive branch of Government (such as training scheduled solely by a private firm or a job-related court appearance required by a court subpoena).

Note:

An agency may not adjust an employee's normal regularly scheduled administrative workweek solely to include travel hours that would not otherwise be considered hours of work.

Travel That is Hours of Work Under the FLSA

For FLSA-covered employees, time spent traveling is hours of work if-

  • an employee is required to travel during regular working hours (i.e., during the regularly scheduled administrative workweek);
  • an employee is required to work during travel (e.g., by being required to drive a Government vehicle as part of a work assignment);
  • an employee is required to travel as a passenger on a 1-day assignment away from the official duty station; or
  • an employee is required to travel as a passenger on an overnight assignment away from the official duty station during hours on nonworkdays that correspond to the employee's regular working hours. (See 5 CFR 551.422(a).)

Note:

An agency may not adjust an employee's normal regularly scheduled administrative workweek solely to include travel hours that would not otherwise be considered hours of work.

Official Duty Station

"Official duty station" is defined in 5 CFR 550.112(j) and 551.422(d). An agency may prescribe a mileage radius of not greater than 50 miles to determine whether an employee's travel is within or outside the limits of the employee's official duty station for determining entitlement to overtime pay for travel.

Administrative Workweek

An administrative workweek is a period of 7 consecutive calendar days designated in advance by the head of an agency under 5 U.S.C. 6101. The regularly scheduled administrative workweek is the period within the administrative workweek during which the employee is scheduled to work in advance of the administrative workweek. (See definitions in 5 CFR 610.102. See also 5 CFR 550.103 and 551.421.)

Commuting Time

For FLSA-covered employees, normal commuting time from home to work and from work to home is not hours of work. (See 5 CFR 551.422(b).) However, commuting time may be hours of work to the extent that the employee is required to perform substantial work under the control and direction of the employing agency-i.e., productive work of a significant nature that is an integral and indispensable part of the employee's principal activities. The fact that an employee is driving a Government vehicle in commuting to and from work is not a basis for determining that commuting time is hours of work. (See Bobo decision cited in the References section.)

Similarly, for FLSA-exempt employees, normal commuting time from home to work and from work to home is not hours of work. (See 5 CFR 550.112(j)(2).) However, commuting time may be hours of work to the extent that the employee is officially ordered or approved to perform substantial work while commuting.

Normal "home-to-work/work-to-home" commuting includes travel between an employee's home and a temporary duty location within the limits of the employee's official duty station. For an employee assigned to a temporary duty station overnight, normal "home-to-work/work-to-home" commuting also includes travel between the employee's temporary place of lodging and a work site within the limits of the temporary duty station.

If an employee (whether FLSA-covered or exempt) is required to travel directly between home and a temporary duty location outside the limits of the employee's official duty station, the time the employee would have spent in normal commuting must be deducted from any hours of work outside the regularly scheduled administrative workweek (or, for FLSA covered employees, outside corresponding hours on a nonwork day) that may be credited for the travel time. (The travel time is credited as hours of work only as allowed under the applicable rules-e.g., for an FLSA-covered employee, if the travel is part of a 1-day assignment away from the official duty station.)

References

  • 5 U.S.C. 5542(b)(2) (General Schedule employees)
  • 5 U.S.C. 5544(a)(3) (Prevailing rate employees)
  • 5 CFR 550.112(g) and (j), 610.102, and 610.123
  • 5 CFR 551.401(h) and 551.422 (OPM's FLSA regulations)
  • Decision by United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, Jerry Bobo v. United States, 136 F.3rd 1465 (Fed. Cir. 1998) affirming Court of Federal Claims decision of same name, 37 Fed. Cl. 690 (Fed. Cl. 1997).
  • Section 4 of the Portal-to-Portal Act of 1947 (61 Stat. 84) as amended in 1996 by section 2102 of Public Law 104-188. (See 29 U.S.C. 254.)

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