Time spent traveling to and from work generally is not compensable or counted toward hours of work under California law. But travel time during work or otherwise at the employer’s direction counts as hours worked. Morillion v. Royal Packing Co. (2000) 22 Cal.4th 575, 587 (where employer required its employees to meet at designated places to take its buses to work and prohibited them from using their own transportation, they were “subject to the control of an employer,” and the time spent traveling on the buses was compensable as “hours worked.”)
The California law requires wages to be paid for all hours the employee is engaged in travel. The state law definition of “hours worked” does not distinguish between hours worked during “normal” working hours or hours worked outside “normal” working hours, nor does it distinguish between hours worked in connection with an overnight out-of-town assignment or hours worked in connection with a one-day out-of-town assignment. Under state law, if an employee requires an employee to attend an out-of-town business meeting, training session, or any other event, the employer cannot disclaim an obligation to pay for the employee’s time in getting to and from the location of that event.
The Department of Labor Standards Enforcement has recognized that time spent driving, or as a passenger on an airplane, train, bus, taxi cab or car, or other mode of transport, in traveling to and from this out-of-town event, and time spent waiting to purchase a ticket, check baggage, or get on board, is under such circumstances, time spent carrying out the employer’s directives, and thus, can only be characterized as time in which the employee is subject to the employer’s control. Such compelled travel time therefore constitutes compensable “hours worked”.