California Wage Laws: Compensation for Travel / Commute Time

You are a consultant who travels from one work site to another serving the needs of your employer’s customers, or you are a support service provider for one of your company’s products and your travel all day from one office to another to repair or provide other on-site services. Are you entitled for compensation for the time you commute from one job site to another?
The answer is yes. The Industrial Welfare Commission Orders specifically define the term “hours worked” as the time during which an employee is subject to the control of an employer, and includes all the time the employee is suffered or permitted to work, whether or not he or she is required to do so. In other words, under California law, if the travel time is subject to and under the employer’s control and it’s time for which the employee should be compensated at his regular rate of pay or at overtime rate of pay if applicable.

Of course, the commute in the beginning of the workday to the first job site and the commute at the end of the day – from the last job site back home – is not a compensable time, as it essentially the same kind of time as any other employee would spend who travels to and from one work site (his office) every day.

It should also be noted that the above rules apply to “employees” and not independent contractors, and the answer to the above question in the case if independent contractors is likely to be “no.”