Reimbursements employees are entitled to for work-related travel expenses can be somewhat convoluted. In some cases, the employers choose to reimburse the employees. In other cases, they are required to by law, and in even other situations, you may have to ask for reimbursement from the government rather than your employer.
Following are some of the most common questions about reimbursements for work-related travel expenses, along with the general answers. The actual answers may vary depending on the type of work you do, whether you are paid hourly or salary, the state you live in, and several other factors.
Q & A: Reimbursements for Work-Related Travel Expenses
QUESTION: If I have to leave my workplace to go to a meeting, make a delivery, fill in at another location, or run a work-related errand, am I supposed to be paid for that time?
ANSWER: In most cases, yes, you may be eligible for reimbursement. If you’re on the clock, you should be paid your normal hourly rate if you are required to travel during work hours.
QUESTION: Who pays for gasoline and wear-and-tear on my vehicle if I have to travel for work?
ANSWER: This can be handled in a few different ways. One is for the employer to pay you a set amount of money for gasoline and wear-and-tear on your vehicle per mile. The other option is for you to claim these expenses at tax time.
QUESTION: If I have to travel out of the state for work, should my employer pay for the flight?
ANSWER: The employer usually pays for the flight, but it is not responsible for the drive to and from the airport. However, your time checking in, waiting for the flight, and so on should be considered working hours.
QUESTION: I have to spend a few nights in a hotel for this business trip. Am I paying for the hotel stay, or will my employer pay for it?
ANSWER: Unfortunately, the Fair Labor Standards Act does not generally require employers to pay for a hotel stay, but it depends on the situation.
The employer should pay for your hotel stay if it is required for you to fully participate in the event/task and commuting is not feasible. For instance, if you are asked to attend a three-day conference an hour away from home, the employer might not have to pay for the hotel stay; if the conference is three states away, the employer should pay for the lodging.
The employer may be able to set a limit on how much it will pay per night.
QUESTION: What about meals during the trip?
ANSWER: This can get a bit muddy. First, your employer is usually not required to pay for your meals during your trip, although many of them do anyway. However, if you pick up the tab for a client, you may be able to request reimbursement for that expense.
(As a side note regarding business lunches and similar gatherings, be careful what you pay for and any gifts you accept from others. In certain situations, giving or receiving gifts may be considered unethical or even illegal. For that reason, many workplaces have rules about these situations. Be sure to review your company’s policies, and if you have any concerns about their legality, contact us.)
QUESTION: OK. I feel like I will be working from morning till night for four days in a row during this trip. I won’t have time to breathe! … Can I get overtime pay?
ANSWER: It depends.
If you are classified as a salaried employee and your employer is following all applicable rules regarding your employment status, probably not.
However, you may be entitled to overtime pay if:
- you are an hourly employee,
- your employer is requiring you to work and/or attend events during all of these hours, and
- you work more than 40 hours that week.
Your employer does not have to pay for:
- your meal and sleeping times
- leisure time (touring the city, lounging at the hotel, etc.)
- purchases outside of those you need for work
The Ifs, Ands, and Buts
The above should not be considered legal advice. Many contributing factors must be taken into account regarding work-related travel expense reimbursements. They include but are not limited to:
- Whether the individual is a salaried or hourly employee
- Whether or not the salaried employee should be classified as a salaried employee
- The industry in question
- The travel locations
- The amount of money that is spent during the business trip
- The duration of the business trip
- That particular state’s laws
- The details of the business trip and what the employee is expected to do during the course of it
In order to fully understand your rights, discuss these issues with your employer. If you are concerned that your employer is not paying you all the money you are entitled to, make an appointment to speak with one of our attorneys here at the Yaldou Law Firm.