Hourly employees are entitled to be paid for all time worked. This begs the basic question: What is work? There are regulations that define work pretty specifically in Massachusetts. In this post, I will focus on the sometimes controversial topic of travel time.
Working time is generally defined in 455 Code Mass. Regs. § 2.01 as:
All time during which an employee is required to be on the employer’s premises or to be on duty, or to be at the prescribed work site, and any time worked before or beyond the end of the normal shift to complete the work. Working time does not include meal times during which an employee is relieved of all work-related duties.
Although very helpful, this doesn’t help us with the issue of travel time in § 2.03. Travel time is separately addressed:
(a) Ordinary travel between home and work is not compensable working time. However, if an employee who regularly works at a fixed location is required, for the convenience of the employer, to report to a location other than his or her regular work site, the employee shall be compensated for all travel time in excess of his or her ordinary travel time between home and work with allowance for associated transportation expenses.
(b) An employee required or directed to travel from one place to another after the beginning of or before the close of the work day shall be compensated for all travel time and shall be reimbursed for all transportation expenses.
So, sadly, you don’t get paid for commuting to work. However, if your employer requires that you go somewhere other than your normal place of work in the morning, you are paid for your time and expenses for the excess time and expense over your normal commute. See also DOS Opinion Letter MW-2001-012. Also, you must be paid for any intra-day travel, for example, between a job site and the main office to return gear before the end of the day.
There have been few cases about travel time wages in Massachusetts, but one is Taggart v. Town of Wakefield, 78 Mass. App. Ct. 421 (2010). That court held that firefighters did not have to be paid for travel time each day to a 12-week training program because the program was of sufficient length and stability to become “fixed,” even though it was temporary.
We do not think that a one-day or five-day temporary assignment is the equivalent of the twelve-week assignment here, during which the plaintiffs performed the duties of their job at the fixed location of the [training program]. We agree with the judge that the [training program], during this period of time, constituted the plaintiffs’ fixed and regular work site.
Id. at 425-6.
Feel free to call us at 617-338-9400 if you are an hourly employee who thinks he or she may be due travel wages in Massachusetts.