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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
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Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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Our company policy (small alarm company less than 10 employees)

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Our company policy (small alarm company less than 10 employees) is outside technicians riding a company owned vehicle and all techs get paid while they are on company vehicle to go to job site (sometimes to go to job site takes 30min to 2 hours). If any employee refuse to ride on company vehicle to go to job site, our company do not pay the travel time that the employee using his personal vehicle to go to job site (daily). Is it okay not paying employee when they are usingtheir personal vehicle to go job site (daily)? Also if this employee gets an accident on the way to jobsite from his home (daily), does company also be responsible for his accident or can this employee sue company for the accident? Please advise. Thank You.
Good morning and thank you for entrusting me to answer your question. I will do everything I can to assist you.

Unfortunately, employees must be paid for all "on the job" travel time, regardless of whether they are riding in a company car or their own personal vehicle. The only travel time which is not compensable is the employer's initial commute to the employer's principle place of business. Employers never have to pay for that, but once an employee is working--and they would be if they were driving to a particualr job site--they are entitled to be paid for that time.

The travel time should be paid at the employee's regular rate of pay. However, it is generally permissible to have a wage agreement whereby employees are paid at a lower rate not to fall below minimum wage for compensable travel time and other types of non-productive work time, as noted in 29 C.F.R. 778.318(b) and a DOL administrative opinion letter dated January 22, 1999 (BNA, WHM 99:8211).

Note well, however, that any such agreement should be clearly expressed in a written wage agreement signed by the employee, and the time distinguished as travel time must be carefully and precisely recorded. Further, if such travel time results in overtime hours, the overtime pay must be calculated according to the weighted average method of computing overtime pay, as provided in 29 C.F.R. 778.115.

With regard to your second question about liability, if an employee is involved in an accident in their personal vehicle while driving to a job site, the company would be liable for any damages pursuant to the legal theory of "respondeat superior." Respondeat superior holds that liability for any on the job conduct that occurs in the ordinary course and scope of the employee's employment automatically transfers to the employer. There is no way to avoid respondeat superior liability, regardless of whether the employee drives a company or personal vehicle.

Finally, though you did not specifically ask about this, I feel obliged to mention that Labor Code 2802 requires employers to reimburse employees for all expenses necessarily incurred in the course of discharging their duties. This would include gas expenses and "wear and tear" on any personal vehicle they use to perform company work.

The total mileage reimbursement (aking into account both gas and wear and tear) recommended under the IRS rules is .56.5 cents per mile for 2013. See here for more information:

Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further.

If you do not require any further assistance, please be so kind as to provide a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you. Very best wishes to you and thank you so much for coming to Just Answer.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

there is no office or chairs for our outside technicians in our office.

Also, this employee is going to job site from his home (not coming to office where no chairs or room for him). Do we still have to pay for his travel time from his home to go to job site (15min to 40min)?


When the employee finish his work from jobsite, he doesnt' come to office to check-out for the day, he goes his home from the jobsite.


Please advise,


Thank you,



Thank you very much for your reply. If some technicians are riding in company vehicles to job sites aren't they reporting to your place of business? Do they go straight to the job site ONLY if they refuse to ride in the company car?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

First, thank you for your prompt response.


Yes. the emploXXXXX, XXXXX goes to jobsite from his home straight and when he is done working on the jobsite, he goes home straight - Mike and his supervisor prearrange a day before where Mike has to go.


Mike doesn't report to office before or after work. He only report to his supervisor on jobsite. On the jobsite, he says good bye to his supervisor, and goes home. Sometimes, when he doesn't have money to buy gas, etc. he come to office and ride with his supervisor - he make his decision whether he drives his own vehicle to go jobsite from home or come to office and ride with his supervisor to go jobsite.


Hope this helpe, Thank you, Chris


This additional information is very helpful.

The answer to your question does become much more complicated when the employee are commuting directly to the job site, so let me back track my answer.

The CA Supreme Court addressed the issue of travel time in the case of Morillon v. Royal Packing (2000) 22 Cal 4th 575. The Court held it was necessary to distinguish between "travel that the employer specifically compels and controls...and an ordinary commute that employees take on their own."

The Court in Morillion concluded that workers who were required to meet at designated departure points at certain times to ride the employer's buses to work were under the control of their employer and thus entitled to compesation for that time. The Court also noted, however, that "This conclusion should not be considered as holding that ALL travel time to and from work, rather than compulsory travel time as defined above, is compensable."

The question then becomes, "What is compulsory travel time and what is an ordinary commute?" This is an intensely fact-dependent inquiry. The DLSE has indicated it will consider and give weight to how far away the work site is and whether the employee is transporting employer tools in their vehicle, among other things.

The tough part about your question is that there is no black and white answer. Since some technicians are being paid for their travel time, however, you are essentially already acknowledging an entitlement to compensation for this time.

I am perhaps more risk averse than others, so if it were me, I would consider this travel time "on the clock." However, the law is simply unclear when it comes to traveling directly to work sites where the employee has no primary work site to report to.

I wish that I could provide you with a more concrete answer, but it is simply not possible to do so under the circumstances.

Again, please feel free to let me know if you have any further concerns. If I have answered your question, I would be very grateful for a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you.

Kindest regards.

Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 10921
Experience: Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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