Are you getting paid for your travel time?

September 7, 2017: Are Maryland home care workers entitled to pay for the time they spend traveling between clients’ homes? If the work is done through the same home care agency, and the travel is for back-to-back shifts at clients’ homes, then the answer is usually yes.  

Travel time is work time if you’re traveling directly from one job site to another for the same employer. That’s because your job requires you to work at different places throughout the day. The time spent on travel between job sites is therefore for your employer’s benefit. It isn’t free time that you can spend however you want.  

Let’s say you’re a home care worker employed by an agency called Loving Care.  You have two clients through Loving Care, Ms. Robinson and Mr. Smith. You work at Ms. Robinson’s home from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and then you drive to Mr. Smith’s house to work from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. It takes about half an hour to get from Ms. Robinson’s house to Mr. Smith’s house. Should you be paid for that half an hour? Yes, you should! That half an hour is work time, and the law says that Loving Care should pay you for it.  

Even if your travel between clients’ homes takes just 15 or 20 minutes, that time can add up. And the amount you should be paid for that time can add up, too. This is especially true if you’re already working close to 40 hours per week, because that travel time could lead to overtime.

Travel time should be paid at your normal hourly pay rate with two exceptions. First, if you’ve reached an agreement with your employer for travel time to be paid at a lower rate, that lower rate may apply. However, it can never be less than the minimum wage. Second, if you’re already working close to 40 or per week and your travel time results in you working more than 40 hours, then any time worked after 40 hours must be paid at the correct overtime rate. For more information on overtime pay, check out our blog post on overtime.   

If you are a home care worker in Maryland, and you’re not being paid for time you spend traveling between clients’ homes in the same day, it is possible you’re owed money. The Public Justice Center might be able to help.  

Questions? Curious to learn more? Call the Public Justice Center at (410) 625-9409, and tell us why you’re calling. We offer free legal services to Maryland residents.