Your employer could owe you thousands of dollars for unpaid overtime you worked traveling for your job. However, most workers cannot receive overtime for a routine commute, such as driving from home to work. Because the regulations for overtime pay for travel time can vary between professions and states, you may need a human resources expert to determine whether your travel time counts as "work."
The Fair Labor Standards Act describes most of the travel time law in the U.S. Travel time can count towards overtime, but only if it involves work required by the employer. You cannot claim overtime due to a commute from home to work, because this does not involve work nor does the employer require it. However, you can claim overtime if the employer requires you to travel between job sites or an overnight stay away from your official work site, according to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.
Situations That Might Require Overtime
Your employer might have to pay overtime while you commute to work if it requires work-related duties, such as picking up employees to bring them to a job site, picking up supplies for work or stopping by the office to pick something up and then traveling to a job site. Most work that requires using the company car counts for overtime, but not all. For instance, stopping to fill up the company car with gas might not count, nor if you went through a drive-through for food.
An employer can assign an employee to a temporary duty station, which is the employer's main hub of operations, and travel from home to that duty station would not count for overtime. In general, an employer's duty station extends for 50 miles in all directions. If the employer assigns you to a work site outside of that 50-mile radius, the travel counts towards overtime.
Consult a lawyer if you think an employer should pay you overtime for travel time. State law, for instance, may offer extra coverage to employees, and employers must abide by the most stringent of federal or state law. Some employees never receive overtime compensation, such as those who work for the Senior Executive Service. A few different rules exist for workers not covered by the FLSA, but for the most part, overtime law in the FLSA applies to exempt and nonexempt workers.
Russell Huebsch has written freelance articles covering a range of topics from basketball to politics in print and online publications. He graduated from Baylor University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science.