This may seem a strange question, but my workplace isn't an easy access building. The place I work is a large (several hundred acres), fenced off, limited access campus. There are only a few gates, with guards checking identification at these entry points. Also, random inspections of vehicles are done during the regular work week (Monday - Friday), and all vehicles are inspected on weekends. These inspections can be done on entry or exit to the campus. It usually takes two to three minutes to drive between the gates and the building where my office is.

The short drive from the gate to/from my building does not usually bother me. However, there are slow downs that occasionally occur as I come to and leave work. For example, traffic back ups can occur waiting for the ID check or vehicle inspection; also, when an inspection is done, it usually takes several minutes to complete. Five to ten minutes of delay is common, but I've seen times when the delay has been twenty to thirty minutes.

Obviously, these slow downs often take several minutes, and it's not inconceivable that it could add up to an hour or more. Thus, I wonder if I should add this time to the work time I log when I encounter these delays.

Edit to add detail:

The work location in question is not owned by my employer, which is a (sub)contractor with the organization which owns the facility. I've looked through my employee handbook and there's nothing in it about this.

While I'm salaried, the terms of the contract say all contract workers are supposed to log all time worked. I've had some recent family issues which have forced me to make up time on weekends. On these occasions I am stopped - often for a considerable period - for vehicle inspections.

I have only one charge number for the time I work on this contract. My employer does not supply a separate administrative(?) charge number for time spent in these delays.

When I first came to work here, security was relatively relaxed. However, over time increasing layers have been added which have slowed things down considerably. The most recent addition is the vehicle check upon exiting the facility on weekends. Unfortunately, upper management has never made it clear if or how these things should recorded, and the low level managers with whom I deal are not likely to know more than me.

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    Comments removed. Please use The Workplace Chat, not comments, for extended discussion.
    – yoozer8
    Commented Feb 6, 2013 at 18:10

7 Answers 7


Firstly you need to be absolutely sure what the company policy on this matter is and follow it. If it is not clear, you should inquire about clarifying it with management.

Absent of policy or any clarifications, I would say that once you are in the company's area/campus past the first security check you are at work.

Look at it this way: it's not your fault that they have a security policy that takes you an extra-long time to get into the office. The time you spend at a security gate or in traffic is not your personal time, it is a direct consequence of their decisions and therefore it is 'how they chose to use you'.

They could always hire more security guards, build more security terminals, spend money to buy ridiculously expensive devices to scan cars, bags and people quickly.

It's ultimately a question of how they chose to run shop.

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    @enderland Please cite your 99% statistic. A good friend of mine worked in a biotech firm whose facility resembled the first Resident Evil movie. It took him ~20 min to get to his lab and start working. However, his work day started from the first time he slid his security card through the very first gate. The question definately has a subjevtive element to it, but insofar as I know these high-security places (sounds similar to OP's situation) don't pin the security time cost on employees. This is different from your typical software parking lot scenario.
    – MrFox
    Commented Feb 7, 2013 at 15:09
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    @suslik it's not at all subjective. It's a question of that company policy, period. If that company doesn't have a policy similar to what you said then your answer is incredibly harmful to the asker (and anyone viewing this). Because at the end of the day, your answer is absolutely NOT universally true (whether it's 99% or 50% or even 25% - there are still lots of companies out there where what you say is absolutely not true) but rather completely misleading.
    – enderland
    Commented Feb 7, 2013 at 15:12
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    It's as much 'fraud' as it would be to 'claim you are working' when going to the bathroom.
    – DA.
    Commented Feb 7, 2013 at 17:13
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    The thing is this site has a back it up policy on answers. I am calling on the @MrFox or one of this answers proponents to back up the claim that you are considered working once you are on the property in the absence of policy stating otherwise. I believe this statement to be a dangerous, unqualified assumption that could lead a reader to criminal or civil penalties. Commented Feb 7, 2013 at 19:52
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    As an analogy from the opposite perspective, if I hire a contractor to replace my windows but intentionally make him stand in a corner with his hands up for 20 minutes for "security processing" before allowing him to touch my windows, would anyone think that it would be reasonable for him to have to pay for that? No, I would be buying the contractor's time. Any lack of trust I have in the contractor that interferes with his ability to get the job done quickly is my own responsibility. I can choose to pay for that, or I can choose to trust him. Free choice, my responsibility. Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 16:31

I don't believe there's a universal answer to this; it could vary from one employer to another.

If there's a written policy, you should follow it. Since you've said there isn't, you should just ask your boss.

If you're concerned about appearing to be a "clock-watcher" (something you mentioned in a comment that's been deleted), make it clear that you're not asking so you can spend less time working if it took half an hour to get through the gate; rather, you're asking exactly what information you should put on your timesheet (or whatever equivalent you're using). They require you to log your hours; it's up to them to tell you what that means.

It's entirely possible that the company will want to collect information about delays, with the goal of reducing them. It's also possible that they don't care and just want you at your desk 8 hours a day.

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    Such a question could be framed in an employer-supporting manner by asking, "Hey, on such-and-such date it took me a whole hour to get through security. Should I add that hour to my timesheet?" Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 16:36

If you have a badge system, when you badge into the building you are at work. If you don't, I count myself as being at work when I am at my desk.

Walking into the building, parking, etc. is all part of commuting in my opinion.

Personally, I do a majority of my best thinking in the shower or my drive in, but I don't ever charge that time.

At the end of the day, every company does this differently. I'm sure your company has a policy (or, at least do what your manager does) on this matter.

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    As I said in the edits to the question, my employer has no policy about this. Also, I fail to see how the parts of this answer about walking, parking, showering, and driving address the issue.
    – GreenMatt
    Commented Feb 6, 2013 at 15:31
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    As the OP suggests, this post says what the answer is but not why it is correct. I would suggest expanding your answer to explain why this is the correct way to handle it. Commented Feb 6, 2013 at 15:53
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    The difference is that the length of your commute is your own choice (could move nearer, find work at a company closer to home), while these delays are caused by the company. But the real difference is whether you can do whatever you like or not. At work you follow orders, outside work you don't. It sounds that the OP has to follow orders (by company security etc. ) and can't do whatever he likes, so he is at work.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Jul 9, 2014 at 10:07

The legal term of art for this is "Waiting to Be Engaged vs Engaged to Wait"

If you're waiting to be engaged, you're on your own time. If you are engaged to wait, then you are working. That is, if you are waiting, but it's due to an integral part of the job (Can't get to work unless you go through that checkpoint? Congratulations, you're engaged to wait!), then you are at work. Note that the usual commute to/from work is exempt because it is exempt.

here is a write up on the concept.

Since you say there is no explicit company policy regarding this, this is probably the best metric you can go by.


As others have stated, you should seek to get clarification from HR / management.

But I suspect you probably won't love the answer.

While not exactly the same situation, I point to this:

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Tuesday that workers who fill orders in Amazon .com warehouses need not be paid for the time they spend going through security checks to ensure they have not stolen any products. (WP)

So my guess is that the law will say your time in the car is YOUR time not company/paid time, even though it really isn't. (IANAL)


In every contract I have ever had, they have specified either that I am on the premises or at my desk. Contracts will contain the definition of your work and place of work. If they do not, ask to speak to HR or the legal team to clarify the matter. No point in asking online about a contractral issue.

If you disagree with the companies policy (once its in a contract or policy) then you can negotiate with your manager about the matter.


I'm in a somewhat similar situation in that I work at a non-military government agency but it is located on a military base. (This is in the US.) Delays in getting through the gates can be considerable. I am also salaried but I charge my time to different projects funding the department. If it took me 20 minutes to get from the gate to my office, who should I charge the time to? Pick a random project and say they're responsible? I would say that you begin work when you are able to start work, not when you're finishing your commute.

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