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How far you travel to work impacts how you spend your time each day, as well as other factors like mileage reimbursement and business deductions. 

So, is it worth it? Let’s explore the topic further, looking at both the pros and cons of commuting during or at the beginning and end of a workday. If you have concerns about your employment reimbursement, wages, or other treatment, speak with an employment lawyer in San Diego right away. 

Remote Work vs. Commuting

Today, an elevation of remote work opportunities has placed an emphasis on the ever-expanding costs of commuting. As a result, both employers and employees are re-examining their day-to-day routines and schedules, thus questioning the value of traveling to and fro – between their home and office.

In California, commuting laws, travel reimbursement policies, and work-based travel costs all influence the stance employees take when it comes to commuting.

Reviewing and Understanding State Commuting Laws

California has specific regulations in place that are designed to protect the rights of commuting workers. While an employer does not have to pay an employee for the time they spend traveling between their home and work, they do have to compensate them for travel during regular working hours.

For example, if you travel, during the workday, to an off-site meeting or your job requires that you visit a client, the time you spend in transit is compensable. Therefore, it’s important for the employer and employee to make these distinctions.

Commuting, then, if it is done during working hours, is compensable, per CFR 785.38. However, the time won’t be paid unless it occurs during the working window or is part of a worker’s job activity. Home-to-work and work-to-home commuting, again, are not employer-covered travel costs.

Travel Reimbursements

If an employer requires that you use your personal auto for work reasons (besides commuting), you may be eligible for getting reimbursed at a specific per-mile rate. The rate is adjusted annually, per IRS guidelines.

If you spend a lot of time driving during the workday or must travel on business frequently, this type of reimbursement can make a big difference when it comes to paying for transportation. Therefore, it’s important to assess your company’s policy on travel reimbursements to see if commuting or traveling for business is financially sensible.

Talk to a lawyer if you want further clarification about company-based policies.

Work-Based Travel Expenses

Besides travel reimbursements, employees who commute during the workday and before and after work must consider the costs of gas, auto maintenance, tolls, and parking. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most employees in LA spend about 30 minutes commuting each way, which is also more than what people spend commuting nationally.

Moreover, the state has higher gas prices. So, a longer commute combined with increased fuel costs can prove to be financially draining. As a result, it pays–literally–to see if traveling the highways is financially viable.

Perks for Super Commuters

Surveys indicate that California is indeed one place where super commuters take to the highways. Part of the reason is that many employers offer flexible scheduling – allowing employees to avoid high traffic times. Plus, some jobs are both remote and on-site, which allows workers to avoid having to commute constantly.

Also, California is a place where carpooling is popular, as is employer-subsidized parking. While an employer does not have to offer this perk, many of them do. 

In addition, some employers subsidize fuel costs or provide an employee shuttle to and from company parking lots or public transportation.

Some people may prefer a long commute, too, as their housing prices are lower if they choose to drive a longer distance. 

How you choose to approach commuting then depends on your personal preferences, lifestyle choices, and the networking opportunities offered by working on-site. 

Just make sure you have a comprehensive understanding of your work-related travel benefits. Doing so will help you make informed decisions about how you travel to and from work and if a job that involves travel is worth it.

Contact an Employment Lawyer About Work-Related Legal Concerns

Whether you have a question about your pay and benefits or want to know more about work-related reimbursements, you should consult with a legal professional. In California, your go-to legal advocate is the Mara Law Firm. Call today to schedule a consultation.

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This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by attorney David Mara who has more than 20 years of legal experience in employment law.

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