We Count on Home Care
A worker who travels from home to work and returns to his or her home at the end of the workday is engaged in ordinary home-to-work travel which is a normal incident of employment. Normal travel from home to work and return at the end of the workday is not work time. This is true whether the employee works at a fixed location or at a different location each day. For live-in workers, home-to-work travel that is typically unpaid does not apply in this case because the employee begins and ends his or her workday at the same home in which he or she resides.
Travel that is all in a day's work, however, is considered hours worked and must be paid.
Example: Barbara is a personal care aide providing assistance to Mr. Jones. Barbara drives him to the Post Office and grocery store during the workday. Barbara is working and the travel time must be paid.
Travel away from the home is clearly work time when it cuts across the employee's workday. The employee is merely substituting travel for other duties. Thus, if an employee hired to provide home care services to an individual (consumer) accompanies that consumer on travel away from home, the employee must be paid for all time spent traveling during the employee's regular working hours. As an enforcement policy, WHD will not consider as work time the time the employee spends as a passenger on an airplane, train, boat, bus or automobile when in travel away from home outside of regular working hours. However, the employee must be paid for all hours engaged in work or "engaged to wait" while on travel. For example, an employee who is required to travel as a passenger with the consumer "as an assistant or helper" and is expected to perform services as needed is working even though traveling outside of the employee's regular work hours. However, periods where the employee is completely relieved from duty, which are long enough to enable him or her to use the time effectively for his or her own purposes, are not hours worked and need not be compensated.
Example: John is a personal attendant for Mrs. Brown, who lives in Atlanta. Mrs. Brown attends a conference in New York City and John accompanies her by plane. John normally works 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. Mrs. Brown's daughter takes her to the airport where they meet John for the flight at 6:00 pm. WHD will not consider the flight time as compensable hours because it is time spent in travel away from home outside of regular working hours as a passenger on an airplane if John is completely relieved from duty. If John provides assistance to Mrs. Brown while at the airport or during the flight or must be available to assist or help as needed, he is working and must be compensated for this time.
Direct care workers who are employed by a third-party employer: Such an employee who travels from home to work and returns to his or her home at the end of the workday is engaged in ordinary home-to-work travel that is not compensable work time. However, travel from job site to job site during the workday, such as travel between several clients during the workday, is compensable hours worked. The third-party employer is responsible for ensuring that travel time from job site to job site is paid.