DOL Issues Opinion Letter on Workdays Split Between Home and Office
January 13, 2021
The Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has issued an opinion letter regarding the compensability of travel time when employees divide their workday between their home and their employer’s place of business. The opinion letter states that workers who choose to work from home before or after working in an office on any given day need not be compensated for the time traveling between the two, so long as the employee has the ability to attend to personal tasks during the travel window. In two hypotheticals, the letter illustrates that an employee who chooses to “telework” for part of the day to facilitate attendance to personal tasks, such as a doctor’s appointment or a school conference, the intermittent time between the telework and the commencement of work at the office (or vice versa) is not compensable because it is used “effectively for her own purposes.” Thus, any time an employee spends attending to personal tasks before or after attending to her principal work duties at home or in the office, along with the time spent traveling to and from the office, is not compensable, as the DOL regards such time as either off-duty and/or engaged in normal, non-compensable commuting.Given this new guidance and its reliance on employees’ freedom during intermittent travel periods, employers who permit such work arrangements should avoid regulating the employee’s activities during the time between the remote and in-office work. Likewise, employers should not require such a split day, and should give deference (to the extent practicable) to the employee regarding specific start and stop times.