Do long commutes count against personal or work hours?

In the above link, crisfole left the following comment:

Your employer isn't responsible for your commute time unless they force you to change between two relatively nearby offices (i.e. You have an office in Cambridge and Woburn, you live and work near the Woburn office, but suddenly they make you switch to the Cambridge office). In this situation (where it sounds like you have a choice) it's completely up to you where you want to work.

I really wonder if there is a legal base for the comment because I am in a similar situation. My location is Dallas area, Texas.

  • 2
    Legal bases are strongly related to the place one lives. Mind adding the tag of your location? – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Mar 4 '18 at 4:42
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    You should describe your own situation. That will get you more relevant answers. The solution that works in the case described in the linked question may not work for you. – Masked Man Mar 4 '18 at 8:06
  • This stackexchange doesn't give out legal advice, but even if it did, you would need to say what was written in your contract/offer letter/original job description, say if this is an at-will job or not, and say whether you're from a protected class or not. – Stephan Branczyk Mar 5 '18 at 4:57

I don't believe the comment intended to make a statement of legality but one of practicality.

Practically, an employer generally doesn't care whether you choose to live in a modest place nearby so that you can spend less time commuting or in a nicer place further away so that you can have a nice lawn. And it's generally not reasonable to expect your employer to provide accommodations for you because of your choices.

However, if an employer decides to change where an existing employee commutes to, then it's generally reasonable for employer and employee to have a conversation about how this affects the employee's commute and to consider reasonable accommodations. If an employer decides that it wants to change where you are commuting to, it bears some practical responsibility to deal with the impact of those changes. It may well have no legal responsibility ((though this will depend on the location and a ton of specifics about the situation) but reasonable employers will generally want to find a way to keep their employee happy in this sort of situation. The employer generally recognizes that if it is changing the terms of employment in a way that negatively affects the employee, it's generally cheaper to make it up to that employee than to risk having the employee go somewhere else.

Of course, there are times when an employer isn't going to be willing (or able) to accommodate an employee in this sort of situation. If they're closing one office or transferring thousands of employees from one office to another, they're probably not going to be willing to work with each affected employee to figure out how the change impacts them. They're probably going to expect instead that they'll lose a fair number of the affected employees over the next few months. If the employer is closing/ consolidating operations because they're under financial stress, this sort of attrition is probably going to be seen by management as a good thing.


That comment has zero upvotes and this comment: https://workplace.stackexchange.com/a/62103/70590 has (currently) 72 upvotes.

The quality of the answer is suggested by people's preference for it.

A long commute always eats into your personal time (because it's working hours + commute time that you're away from your own activities). The chance of an employer paying for your commute is slim, but not unheard of. Just look at the rush hour - people are nuts to drive for hours over a few bridges so they can live far from work. Many people work (commute) an extra 25% for free, every day, for many years ...

As for "legal advice" we don't offer it nor would most people want random unqualified people to offer it.

Ask politely to be paid extra.

I always make a point of mentioning that the employers ideas and whatever they want is important, because it's money in my pocket. Extra interviews, lots of questions or tests are the best because it will cost an arm and a leg, or they can forget about it. What you can get away with is determined by the labor market, if they can't replace you then they want to accommodate your needs; sometimes ...

I've seen many businesses sit stagnant for decades because they couldn't find anyone to accept their conditions, but the owners and their families can say they own a business and are employed.

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