How to Compensate Your Employees for Travel Time

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Compensate your employees for traveling during business hours.
Compensate your employees for traveling during business hours. (Image: Maria Teijeiro/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

If a job calls for an employee to travel outside of the office, employers must have policies in place that outline compensation and mileage reimbursement guidelines. Employee time that is used for travel is not necessarily productive, unless the employee travels by bus, train or plane and is able to get some work done on the road. However, requiring the employee to travel makes it the employer's responsibility to compensate the individual for that travel time.

Set an hourly travel reimbursement rate for the company. Make it a standardized rate that is the same across the board for exempt and non-exempt employees. If your company will also reimburse for mileage used on the employee's personal vehicle, outline the rate per mile. You will also want to decide if your company will reimburse employees for purchasing gas that was necessary for traveling in their own vehicles.

Keep track of when the employee travels. Create a travel compensation form that you submit to the company's Human Resources department so the employee can be reimbursed accurately. A travel compensation form captures information about the dates, times and distances traveled, along with the method of transportation. Managers must approve the forms before submitting them for payment.

Review the time and distance traveled on the travel form once your employee submits it. If your employee is taking a two-hour drive from one city to another, the travel time should be congruent with the distance traveled. Question any times and distances that do not match. If it should take the employee only two hours to travel, but it took him six, you need to find out why because it may mean that you do not have to compensate him for time.

Ask for gas receipts. If the employee drove his own car on the travel trip and had to fill up his gas tank, the receipt serves as evidence and can be submitted along with the travel compensation form. Collect other receipts related to travel costs, such as hotel accommodations if the employee was required to stay at a hotel for a conference.

Add up all of the travel expenses, including the hourly travel reimbursement rate, mileage rate and receipts. Put the final cost on the employee's travel compensation form and submit it to the HR department, or other appropriate department within your company.

Cut the employee an individual check for his compensation, or add the compensation amount to his paycheck. Keep in mind that if the company reimburses the employee on his regular paycheck for items such as gas and hotel accommodations, the employee will be taxed on these additional values. Your company will need to decide the most appropriate means for reimbursing employees.

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