I'm an hourly worker at a landscaping company in Los Angeles and travel to a different job site or multiple job sites in a day. The morning and afternoon commute range from 15 minutes to 1.5 hours.

My employer (disorganized startup) suggested that the time they pay us for is only time spent on site. Not including time spent traveling between jobs. This means that even though I have logged 8+ hours in a day that they would only pay mileage for the time traveling between jobs.

I'm an employee and not a contractor, and I am sure this has to be unlawful, but I'm having trouble finding resources regarding my situation. They want to talk to an adviser first and then discuss it tomorrow because I brought up the issue. I'm honestly surprised at this stance, and would like to be prepared if they hold their current stance.

  • 6
    I'm constantly surprised at how many employers are so wretchedly uninformed about the applicable labor laws and how many of them seem to think that they can make up the rules as they see fit.
    – joeqwerty
    Commented Jun 21, 2019 at 3:21
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    As an aside, if you were a contractor you'd still have every right to ASK to be compensated for travel time. Your clients could refuse, but then you could refuse to take them on as a client. I'm an independent contractor and I bill my clients for travel time. If they don't agree to it in the contract then I refuse to take them on as a client. My travel time on their behalf is time that I can't be performing work for, and earning money from, other clients.
    – joeqwerty
    Commented Jun 21, 2019 at 3:28
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    Did you make this request in writing? If you didn't, their advisor could just tell them to fire you and you would have a hard time proving that's the reason you were let go. Normally, you bring this up to the Department of Labor of your State, but you don't tell your employer that you're doing so. If they tell you tomorrow that their practice is perfectly legal, that's what you should do. Pretend that you're ok with the decision, thank them for looking into it, and then complain here: labor.ca.gov/contactindex.htm Commented Jun 21, 2019 at 3:52
  • I was attempting to clarify the policy and did it over slack.
    – Rhizoqueer
    Commented Jun 21, 2019 at 6:34
  • Somebody offered to close this question because it's "company-specific." I respectfully disagree. It's state-specific, in a US state that would be fifth largest economy in the world if it stood alone.
    – O. Jones
    Commented Jun 22, 2019 at 10:07

2 Answers 2


Between jobsites, yes but not between your home and the first/last site.

California defines the term “hours worked” as “the time during which an employee is subject to the control of an employer, and includes all time the employee is suffered or permitted to work, whether or not required to do so.” I.W.C. Wage Orders, Section 2

  • Thank you, I also saw somewhere that if it takes longer than usual to commute that you should be compensated. I wonder how that applies to a job that always has a different location.
    – Rhizoqueer
    Commented Jun 21, 2019 at 6:38
  • If your commute to the company office is 30 minutes then you could negotiate to be compensated for any travel time in excess of 30 minutes. This would be applicable for your travel time from and to your home from client locations. Your travel time between client locations should always be compensated.
    – joeqwerty
    Commented Jun 21, 2019 at 12:31
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    At the VERY least, track your mileage between sites and you can take a tax deduction, regardless of state.
    – Keith
    Commented Jun 21, 2019 at 13:54
  • @joeqwerty If your commute is taking a long time because you have to go to client sites far away, it's reasonable to ask for compensation. If your commute to the main office is long, then you should either move or suck it up. Commented Jun 21, 2019 at 15:44

I can tell you how it works in the U.K., California may be similar: As an employee you have a fixed place of work. Travel from home to the fixed place of work and back home is at your expense and in your time. Travel during the day is work time paid by the employer. That’s the simple part.

Where it’s tricky is if you travel from home directly to the first customer or from the last customer directly back home. In that case the time should be working time. Now it might be more convenient for you to go directly to the client but cheaper for the company if you go to the office first, in that case you can negotiate. If home-office-client is 30+30 minutes and home-client is 40 minutes then going to the client directly and getting paid 30 minutes is better for both you and the company.

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