Skip to main content
OL&I Logo

Travel Time & Mileage

Should you be paid for travel time at work? It depends on the kind of travel that is involved.

There are four basic categories of employee travel. Here’s a summary.

Portal-to-portal travel

Portal-to-portal travel is another way of saying “commute.” It includes your normal home-to-work and work-to-home travel at the beginning and end of a single work day. Generally, your employer does not have to pay you for this travel time (unless they have a policy or contract promising pay for it).

Travel between worksites 

Travel between worksites includes travel within a single day between multiple work sites. In general, employers must pay you for this time if you must travel to accomplish the day’s work.

Special one-day assignments

If your employer requires you to report to an alternate work site over 30 miles away from your normal fixed work location, they generally must pay you for that travel time.

Overnight travel

On overnight trips, all the time you spend traveling during normal work hours must be paid -- even on weekends. Your employer is not legally obligated to pay you for travel time that falls outside of your regular work hours, except when you are required to drive.

Mileage

Oregon law does not require employers to pay mileage, but you can’t incur any required costs that reduce the amount you earn to below minimum wage.

If you think your employer is violating this law, you can make a complaint or contact us to get help.

The law

OAR 839-020-0045

ORS 653

Frequently asked questions

For workers

Is your employer required to pay you for regular home-to-work/work-to-home travel?

No, unless your employer has a policy or contract promising pay for such travel.

Is your employer required to pay you for travel time from one job site to another in the course of a day’s work?

Yes, if you must travel to accomplish the day’s work. Examples include landscape maintenance employees or appliance repair persons who travel from site to site during the day.

If your employer allows you to take a company vehicle home, do they have to pay for travel time from home to the job site and vice versa?

No, as long as you perform no work duties until reaching the first work site. This is considered normal home-to-work/work-to-home travel, and the time doesn’t have to be compensated.

If my employer requires me to stop at one location at the beginning of the work day to receive instructions or to pick up tools or a company vehicle before reporting to the actual work site, do they have to pay you for any of the travel time?

Yes. The travel from your home to the first location does not need to be compensated, since it falls under the portal-to-portal/commute rule. But once you arrive at the first required location, you are "on the clock" and the subsequent travel time is compensable.

I was sent from my normal Portland office to train new hires at our Salem branch. I did not stay overnight in Salem and returned home the same day. Should I be paid for the travel time?

Yes. Because the one-day assignment was to a city beyond a 30-mile radius of your official work station, the travel time involved is must be paid.

I frequently work at different locations and don’t have a fixed official work station. Does my employer have to pay me for the time when I travel more than 30 miles to a worksite?

No. The "special one-day assignment" rule applies only when you have a fixed official work location. Your travel time thus falls under the portal-to-portal rule and doesn’t have to be compensated, even when she travels to remote locations for the day.

When is travel on an overnight trip considered work time that must be compensated?

On overnight trips, all the time you spend traveling during normal work hours must be compensated -- even on weekends. Your employer is not legally obligated to compensate for travel time that falls outside of your regular work hours, except when you are required to drive. 

Example: Chet's regular work schedule is 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. His employer requires him to attend a two-day business conference in Boise, Idaho. Chet travels by bus on Wednesday, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The employer must pay for these six hours of travel time, since they cut across Chet's normal work hours. Chet returns home by bus on Saturday, traveling from 2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. The employer must pay for the three hours between 2:00 and 5:00 p.m., the travel time which cuts across Chet's normal work hours. This is required even though Chet does not normally work on Saturdays. 

Example: Jane's regular work schedule is 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Her employer sends her from Portland to a work-related weekend convention in Chicago on a Friday night "red-eye" flight from midnight to 5:00 a.m. Since Jane is traveling as a passenger outside of normal work hours, the employer needn't pay for any of the travel time.

Does the government set a required mileage rate for employees that drive between job sites?

Yes and No. Yes, the federal government does set a mileage rate for its employees, but no, unless you happen to work for the federal government, your employer does not have to pay mileage to you at the federal rates. 

In fact, wage and hour laws do not require employers to pay mileage to their employees at all. 

That said, under Oregon’s Minimum Wage Law (ORS 653) employers are prohibited from requiring employees to shoulder the expense of required items if doing so has the effect of reducing their wages below minimum wage. 

So if on the job travel is an item that you require, related expenses like fuel and vehicular wear and tear cannot have the effect of reducing an employee’s wages below minimum wage for all hours worked. Paying an agreed upon rate per mile driven is one way of preventing a potential minimum wage violation.

Is my employer obligated under wage and hour laws to pay me for per diem expenses (hotel, restaurants, mileage, etc.)?

Generally, no. But your employer must cover per diem expenses when requiring you to pay them would have the effect of bringing you below minimum wage for the pay period. (Minimum wage employees may never be required to pay per diem expenses.)

If my employer does pay per diem and/or mileage to employees, must they still pay for travel time?

Yes, the regular travel rules still apply.

Does my employer have to pay travel time when they arrange for a company vehicle to pick up employees and deliver them to the job site?

If employees are using such a service for their own convenience and are not required to travel in the company vehicle, this is still considered normal home-to-work/work-to-home travel. The driver of the company vehicle is the only person actually performing work and therefore the only employee to whom travel time pay is due.

May my employer pay a different rate for travel time than for hours worked at my regular rate?

Yes, as long as your employer pays at least minimum wage for all hours worked. If your employer intends to pay travel time at a rate lower than the regular hourly rate, they should clearly advise you of the policy in advance.

Do compensable travel hours have to be included when calculating overtime?

Yes. Compensable travel hours must be counted for purposes of calculating whether you have performed more than 40 hours of work in a single workweek.

For employers

Are employers required to pay workers for regular home-to-work/work-to-home travel?

No, unless the employer has a policy or contract promising pay for such travel.

Is the employer required to pay workers for travel time from one job site to another in the course of a day’s work?

Yes, if workers must travel to accomplish the day’s work. Examples include landscape maintenance employees or appliance repair persons who travel from site to site during the day.

If an employer allows an employee to take a company vehicle home, does the employer have to pay for travel time from home to the job site and vice versa?

No, as long as the employee performs no work duties until reaching the first work site. This is considered normal home-to-work/work-to-home travel, and the time needn’t be compensated.

If I require my employee to stop at one location at the beginning of the work day to receive instructions or to pick up tools or a company vehicle before reporting to the actual work site, do I have to pay any of the travel time?

Yes. The travel from the employee’s home to the first location does not need to be compensated, since it falls under the portal-to-portal rule. But once the employee arrives at the first required location, the employee is "on the clock" and the subsequent travel time is compensable.

I sent an employee from my Portland office to train new-hires at our Salem branch. The employee did not stay overnight in Salem and returned home the same day. Must I pay for the travel time?

Yes. Because the one-day assignment was to a city beyond a 30-mile radius of the employee’s official work station, the travel time involved is compensable.

My employee frequently works at different locations and doesn’t have a fixed official work station. Do I have to pay her time when she travels more than 30 miles to a worksite?

No. The "special one-day assignment" rule applies only when an employee has a fixed official work location. Your employee’s travel time thus falls under the portal-to-portal rule and needn’t be compensated, even when she travels to remote locations for the day.

When is travel on an overnight trip considered work time that must be compensated?

On overnight trips, all the time an employee spends traveling during normal work hours must be compensated -- even on weekends. An employer is not legally obligated to compensate for travel time that falls outside of the employee’s regular work hours, except when the employee is required to drive. 

Example: Chet's regular work schedule is 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. His employer requires him to attend a two-day business conference in Boise, Idaho. Chet travels by bus on Wednesday, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The employer must pay for these six hours of travel time, since they cut across Chet's normal work hours. Chet returns home by bus on Saturday, traveling from 2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. The employer must pay for the three hours between 2:00 and 5:00 p.m., the travel time which cuts across Chet's normal work hours. This is required even though Chet does not normally work on Saturdays. 

Example: Jane's regular work schedule is 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Her employer sends her from Portland to a work-related weekend convention in Chicago on a Friday night "red-eye" flight from midnight to 5:00 a.m. Since Jane is traveling as a passenger outside of normal work hours, the employer needn't pay for any of the travel time. Example: Peter, whose regular work schedule is 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, travels by plane to an out-of-state business meeting. The air travel takes place from 12:00 noon to 5:00 p.m. At the airport, Peter is required to pick up a rental car and drive an additional five hours to reach the remote city where the meeting will take place. In this case, the employer must pay for 10 hours of travel time -- the five hours of air travel which cut across Peter's normal work hours, plus the five hours of car travel which fall outside of Peter's normal work hours, since he is required to drive during that time. 

Example: Donna normally works the graveyard shift, from 12:00 midnight to 8:00 a.m. Donna's supervisor assigns her to travel to California for a week-long business trip. The supervisor offers Donna a bus ticket for travel from 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., but Donna chooses to drive her private vehicle instead. In this case, since Donna was offered transportation as a passenger and was not required to drive, the employer may choose to pay Donna for all of the hours she spends driving her car, but is only legally obligated to pay for the two hours of travel from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. -- the time that would have been compensable had Donna accepted the bus ticket.

Does the government set a required mileage rate for employees that drive between job sites?

Yes and No. Yes, the federal government does set a mileage rate for its employees, but no, unless you happen to be the federal government, you are not required to pay mileage to your employees at the federal rates. 

In fact, wage and hour laws do not require employers to pay mileage to their employees at all. 

That said, under Oregon’s Minimum Wage Law (ORS 653) employers are prohibited from requiring employees to shoulder the expense of required items if doing so has the effect of reducing their wages below minimum wage. 

So if on the job travel is an item that you require, related expenses like fuel and vehicular wear and tear cannot have the effect of reducing an employee’s wages below minimum wage for all hours worked. Paying an agreed upon rate per mile driven is one way of preventing a potential minimum wage violation.

Is an employer obligated under wage and hour laws to pay employees for per diem expenses (hotel, restaurants, mileage, etc.)?

Generally, no. But an employer must cover per diem expenses when requiring the employee to pay them would have the effect of bringing the employee below minimum wage for the pay period. (Minimum wage employees may never be required to pay per diem expenses.)

If the employer does pay per diem and/or mileage to employees, must the employer still pay for travel time?

Yes, the regular travel rules still apply.

Does the employer have to pay travel time when the employer arranges for a company vehicle to pick up employees and deliver them to the job site?

If employees are using such a service for their own convenience and are not required to travel in the company vehicle, this is still considered normal home-to-work/work-to-home travel. The driver of the company vehicle is the only person actually performing work and therefore the only employee to whom travel time pay is due.

May the employer pay a different rate for travel time than for hours worked at the employee's regular rate?

Yes, as long as the employer pays at least minimum wage for all hours worked. If an employer intends to pay travel time at a rate lower than the regular hourly rate, the employer should clearly advise employees of the policy in advance.

Do compensable travel hours have to be included when calculating overtime?

Yes. Compensable travel hours must be counted for purposes of calculating whether an employee has performed more than 40 hours of work in a single workweek.




Disclaimer: This website is not intended as legal advice. Any responses to specific questions are based on the facts as we understand them and the law that was current when the responses were written. They are not intended to apply to any other situations. This communication is not an agency order. If you need legal advice, please consult an attorney.​


Your browser is out-of-date! It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites. Learn how

×