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News | Jan 01, 2011

Understand the Travel Time Rights of Landscapers, Laborers, and Contractors

The full panoply of wage and overtime rip-offs in the landscaping and construction industries are too vast to be covered by this mere Newsletter.

Notwithstanding, when you speak with your clients in the landscaping and construction industries, you should be on the lookout for the Company’s failure to pay for travel between the company headquarters and the work location.

Many landscaping and contracting companies require the workers to report to headquarters at the beginning of the workday.  There, the workers gather equipment and materials needed for the day’s project, load the company vehicle, and travel to the worksite.  Then, at the end of the day, the workers must return to headquarters, unload the vehicle, and perform other end-of-shift duties.

The illegality arises when the Company pays the workers only for the time spent on-site at the work location.  Under such circumstances, workers are cheated out of many hours of compensable work.  Indeed, we have represented clients who have been owed thousands of dollars for of unpaid travel time at the beginning and end of the workday.

The Department of Labor has enacted a regulation that specifically addresses travel during the workday.  Here’s what it says:

Time spent by an employee in travel as part of his principal activity, such as travel from job site to job site during the workday, must be counted as hours worked. Where an employee is required to report at a meeting place to receive instructions or to perform other work there, or to pick up and to carry tools, the travel from the designated place to the work place is part of the day’s work, and must be counted as hours worked regardless of contract, custom, or practice. If an employee normally finishes his work on the premises at 5 p.m. and is sent to another job which he finishes at 8 p.m. and is required to return to his employer’s premises arriving at 9 p.m., all of the time is working time.  However, if the employee goes home instead of returning to his employer’s premises, the travel after 8 p.m. is home-to-work travel and is not hours worked.

29 C.F.R. §785.38 (emphasis supplied).

In this economy, workers are increasingly required to drive to worksites located further and further away from company headquarters.  These workers deserve to be paid for this work, which keeps them away from their families for many extra hours during the typical workweek.

If you suspect your landscaping or construction clients have been denied travel time, don’t hesitate to refer them to our law firm for a free and confidential consultation.

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