OPM Explains Policy on Paying Teleworking Federal Employees Who Travel During Work

OPM has issued guidance explaining when federal employees can get paid for travel time during telework or remote work.

The Office of Personnel Management has released guidance outlining under what circumstances federal employees can get paid for the hours spent traveling to their agency workplaces if they are doing telework or remote work.

The OPM document states:

As the Federal workplace landscape changes, agencies must continue to correctly apply the rules concerning hours of work for all Federal employees, including those who are teleworkers and remote workers. While Federal employees may have access to workplace flexibilities with respect to the location where work is performed and/or the hours during which work is performed, the crediting of time as hours of work is based on applicable rules under title 5, United States Code, and/or the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Generally speaking, whether or not federal employees can have travel time to a traditional workplace credited as work hours depends on whether or not they are covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) or Title 5.

The OPM memo states:

The crediting of travel time as hours of work depends on whether an employee is FLSA-nonexempt (i.e., covered by the FLSA) or FLSA-exempt (i.e., not covered by the FLSA but instead covered by title 5). For an FLSA-nonexempt employee, travel time may be creditable as work under either the FLSA or title 5. For an FLSA-exempt employee, travel time is only creditable as work under title 5.

It further adds:

The crediting of hours as hours of work depends on whether an employee is a nonexempt employee covered by FLSA overtime rules or an FLSA-exempt employee covered by the rules in title 5, United States Code, or other similar authority. For an FLSA-nonexempt employee, an hour is a creditable hour of work if the hour is creditable under either FLSA overtime rules or title 5 overtime rules. There are specific rules governing when travel time is considered to be hours of work under the FLSA or title 5, which are particularly relevant in this guidance document. (See 5 CFR 550.112(g) and (j) for title 5 rules on travel time and 5 CFR 551.422 for FLSA rules on travel time.)

The OPM document includes more detailed information and examples of scenarios under which federal employees might be able to get paid for time spent traveling if they are under remote work or telework arrangements.

Federal employees with questions should contact their human resources offices for assistance.

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Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.