The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not consider the time spent by employees in their daily commute to work as part of working hours and does not require the employer to pay for the time employees spend commuting to work. This holds true even if the commute is to or from a different work place than normal, or if the commute takes longer than usual.
If the employee, however, undertakes work or performs any work related task when commuting, such as picking up supplies, writing a project report, and making or receiving official calls, then FLSA recognizes the time as compensable work hours, eligible for payment by the employer.
In the case law Smith v. Aztec Well Servicing Co., 462 F.3d 1274 (10th Cir. 2006), the court considered the time spend by Aztec Well Servicing Company employees traveling to and from work on drilling rigs in remote locations as not compensable. Even though the company transported the employees in a vehicle under the control and supervision of an Aztec employee, the employees did not spend majority of the commute time in actual work, and were free to sleep, eat, read, or do anything they pleased during the commute.
In another case law Singh v. New York City, 524 F.3d 361 (2d Cir. 2008), the court ruled that New York City fire alarm inspectors were not entitled to compensable hours when traveling to and from their first and last inspection locations around the City. Although the inspectors carried large and heavy files between their homes and the inspection location, the employer was not the “primary beneficiary" of such travel time.
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