Salaried Dopers - how do you consider business travel?

A typical situation:

I am salaried. I am expected to work 40 hrs / wk. No problem.

This particular week - I have an engagement with a customer at 12:30 PM on Monday. Said customer is 250 miles away.

I wake up Monday, leave at 6 AM. Arrive in time for customer meeting, which lasts from 12:30 PM to 4:30 PM.

I take said customer out to dinner, 6-8 PM.

I stay overnight in said customer’s state. The next morning, I wake up at 7 AM and hit the road. Get back to the office to drop off materials at 11-11:30 AM.

At this point - my opinion is: “I’ve been ‘on the job’ since 6 AM Monday. I’m going home. I’ll work the typical eight hours Wednesday through Friday.”

My supervisor’s opinion: “It’s 11 AM Tuesday. Work until 5 PM Tuesday, resume normal hours Wednesday through Friday”

There is no written company policy on things like this. My supervisor is pretty decent, and certainly wouldn’t object strongly to my going home at 11:00 AM Tuesday - but he would prefer I work through the day.

Any opinions as to what is proper?

FWIW my job description says travel 10% of the time; As it is now I travel 3-4 days per month which isn’t too far off.

In Alaska the labor laws are OT for over 8 and/or over 40. This prevents things like making an employee work ridiculous hours for 3 days straight etc. Now, for the salaried employees, if they’re in the office, they can’t claim OT until 4 hours. In the field, they can claim OT as soon as it occurs.

All travel is “wheels up to wheels down” which is sort of what it sounds like, if you include the wheels on the taxi or vehicle which takes you from home and to home.

So, in a scenario like yours we’d be charging for all hours on the road or at work, excluding hours back in the hotel, or other off duty hours.

So for you, the first day you worked 12-14 hours, and then the second day you worked 4 to 4.5? That means you’ve worked approximately 18 hours, so you owe 22 more, that’s an average of 7.3333 hours per each of the remaining three days, if you go home at noon on Tuesday, or if you work until 5 on Tues it means you owe 4.6 for each of the remaining days.

If you worked the hours the manager wanted you to, you’d be way over 40 hours actually worked. IANALL, so you may want to check into your local labor laws re: travel, but just off the top of my head, travel IS work, and I don’t think that an employer can reasonably expect employees to give over their time on that free of charge.

On one hand, you don’t want to set a precedent in which you do all your business travel on your own time. On the other, this is probably not a good time (economy-wise) to be counting every minute and citing labor statutes. If your supervisor is otherwise decent, you might want to split the difference and give the company a few extra hours of work, leaving around 2pm, for example. A little goodwill in the bank may prove useful in the months to come (just make sure your supervisor is aware of your extra effort).

I travel a lot for work and I schedule my travel on workdays. If it was only once in a while, I wouldn’t be so concerned, but I would be robbing myself of a significant number of days off in a year. My travel is usually international so almost always more than 8 hours. Travel time counts as work time in my book.

ETA: Also, I schedule my trips so there isn’t much of a window for coming in to the office on travel days. I would try not to arrive at 11, if possible, but 1pm: “well, no point to heading into the office, what with traffic and all, I should probably just go to a Nats game.”

I’m salaried. on the road 3-4 nights a month. typically leave home monday morning 6:00 am. i work on the way to the airport, on the plane, on the other side. typical schedule on the road is start by 7:00 and usually customer dinners every night.

no comp time off.

i get a good salary and have never worked less than a 50 hour week.

I’m currently entering the fourth week of a three week business trip (yes, it got extended by an extra week). At the end of this week, by the OP’s logic, I shall have been “on the clock” for over 600 hours. There are around 2000 hours in a standard work year.

The reality is that I get paid well enough, and want to have a job. My job is hypothetically about 80% travel, but it works out to be a bit less. In the past couple of years I’ve had some long stretches where I am at home and not that much to do. Then there are more typically business trips, where I travel on Sunday evening (Monday morning is often not an option) and usually fly back on Thursday evening, if the client is close, or Friday. The travel part, at least for me, just comes with the territory. This trip sucks, but I am in Europe and it’s not practical to fly out here and home on the weekends. I hope to have at least two weeks back in Florida before I need to come out again, but my guess is, if I do come back, it will be another 2-3 weeks trip. When I am on a trip, in theory my evenings are my own, most of the time. In reality I usually more or less have to go out to dinner with my colleagues, whether I want to or not. My work week is still about roughly normal. And when I’m not working I’m trapped in this small town, although I can get out a bit on the weekend, I still don’t get to see my kids or wife.

Net, it has sucky aspects, but it pays the rent and orthodontist and puts food on the table. There is nothing else I could do, and live where we live, that comes close in pay. This is a trade-off we knew was a possibility when we moved to be closer to family.

If I could find a decent paying, stable job that only had me travel a few days a month I’d be ecstatic. I keep an eye for such jobs, even consider relocating somewhere, but haven’t really found a good fit yet.

IMO salaried means you aren’t working - nor paid by - the hour. Hourly employees can expect 40 hour work weeks. Salaried means you work until the job is done.

But I expect it to be a two-way thing. I put in extra hours when I need to and I expect leniency when I need it. If I have to travel, I travel. If I have to go to the doctor’s, I don’t expect to have to make up the time. It is a give and take.

One thing I tell my people is that there is always crunch times, but if they are working over time every week, I am mismanaging.


If you get a salary, “forty hour work week” is a meaningless concept. You’re being paid to accomplish certain responsibilities, not push buttons during a shift.

The question is whether the responsibilities put on you are reasonable to expect a person to do for a reasonable salary. Putting in a 60-hour-week one week is no big deal, and only a jerk would start pretending he was an hourly employee when it becomes convenient to do so. But

  1. If you’re putting in sixty hours EVERY WEEK, that’s unreasonable. Forty hours ia a good general target for the normal week; if you’re always above that you’re doing more than the work of one person,

  2. Khadaji is right. If I bust my ass some days I expect that other days I can knock off early to get something done. Fortunately, my employer is very hands off in this regard.

  3. Time flexibility is dependent upon the nature of the job, of course.

You are incorrect. Are you “on the job” while you are watching TV or sleeping in the hotel at night? No.

Your supervisor is correct.

Quite frankly I’m not sure why you need to be told this. You can’t say “oh I was on a 2 day business trip and ‘worked’ 40 hours. I’m taking the rest of the week off.” It doesn’t work like that.

Off work time (Hotel, bar, whatever) doesn’t count on a business trip. However, travel time (Gate to Door) most certainly does.

Last job I had to travel for, we flew out to a small town where we had a site and were there for a day and a half. Left there about noon the second day, flew back into town, walked out of the airport about 6pm. Idiot co-worker tries to bully me into the office at that point because we’d “only worked a half day so far”, because we’d left the site at noon.

Nope, we’ve worked a full day, I’m going home.

Lost his respect, :rolleyes: because I wasn’t willing to put in another four hours in the office to fill out my day.

In the US, the law recognizes “exempt” (salaried) and “non-exempt” (hourly). But in reality, there is a big gray area in which exempt people (i.e. no legal entitlement to overtime pay) are still required to report their hours. Any business in which there is an external client who is being billed by the hour (law and government contracting come to mind) can and will require exempt employees to account for actual hours worked on a project-by-project basis. The catch is that they technically can’t make your job evaluation contingent on the number of hours you’ve worked. Of course, there’s practically no way to legally enforce this on an employer that is hip to the law, so in effect you have people who are not getting paid overtime, yet are required to account for 40 productive hours per week just as if they were hourly. I’ve been waiting for this little house of cards to come crashing down for oh, about 20 years now.

Anyhoo, you sound as if you’re in my situation, which is exempt but required to account for 40 hours. When I travel, a specific set of rules come into play which are influenced by the tax law and by government contracting regulations. On a one-day trip, I can charge hours from the time I leave until the time I come home, except for my usual lunch half-hour. On the first day of an overnight trip, I can charge from when I leave until I check in to my hotel room. Then I charge actual time worked on days spent only at the customer site. On the return trip I again can charge from the time I leave for the customer site until I get home. We don’t subtract hours for meals eaten during travel because if we were to eat dinner at work due to a late night, we would get paid for that time.

I’m entitled to a strict accounting of my travel time according to the above rules, because I have to charge 80 productive hours per two-week pay period. I can’t work 120 one period and 40 the next. It’s not unusual for me to clock 16-18 hours on the last day of a trip, because I’ll typically leave for the customer site at 7 am local time, work until the afternoon, drive to the airport, and take a late flight back home, arriving at maybe midnight or 1 am local time. With a 2-hour time zone change, that makes 17-18 hours. That entitles me to take a day off later in the week, which I do.

Applying my rules to your situation, you worked 14 hours on Monday and about 4 on Tuesday. That makes 18, which is more than enough to allow you to take the rest of Tuesday off and fill out the week with normal hours on W-F. Or, you could work T afternoon and take F afternoon off. If your boss doesn’t let you do that, he’s being a dick. Of course, in this economy, a lot of people have to just roll over and take it.

He didn’t say that. He said he was entitled to Tuesday afternoon off.

I’m a federal gov’t employee and here’s how it works in my organization. As much as possible, we schedule our travel during normal working hours. However, if we have to travel on Sunday in order to arrive for a Monday morning conference, we get comp time from door to door (home to hotel.) If we do local travel that keeps us past normal hours, we get travel comp for that also. Personally, I won’t claim anything less than an hour, but that’s not a requirement - just my take on it.

Last place I worked, also as a Fed, the travel office would go out of their way to schedule you to travel after hours and you got nothing in return. Given a choice between a 10AM flight and a 6PM flight, they’d book you for the later one, and you’d be required to work all day. Needless to say, people there *hated *to travel. Those of us who had good bosses were cut some slack.

As we’ve seen, the answer is there are no meaningful legal restrictions on this in the US. Effectively, it is entirely between the worker, the supervisor, and the company to come to some arrangement that all are willing to live with.

A jerk company *can *insist that all time not spent actively working for the customer’s benefit is personal time. So you’d take all travel time out of your personal time. They could also say that all time spent socializing with the customer, e.g. sales dinners, is personal time too. No law says you have to work for that jerk company though.

Depends on the job. Maybe ask some of the other salaried employees what they do.

My husband has always been salaried and different places have different official and unofficial ways of handling things. As far as keeping track of when he’s worked 40 hours and trying to make up anything over as time off, it’s never worked like that. If it did he could take the next 9 years off with pay.

He would routinely, 5-9 times /year, take an 18 - 27 hour plane trip to Taiwan or Thailand, work 16 hour days 5 - 7 days a week for three weeks then come home for a week. (this was a job that they said would be occasional travel when he interviewed) Once in a while he would ask for some comp time if he worked a whole lot of weekend days. When he was in the office he could leave early or take off for an appointment or shopping as long as he got his work done but by no means could he be gone a lot or people would think he wasn’t working. If he had to work a paid holiday he would always get a comp day for it and they would let him call that another vacation day. He would usually take one day off for jet lag if flying from overseas. This was not that well paid of a job either, a lot of the hourly employees in the plant made more than him.

Now when he travels more locally, if he gets done in the morning, even if he was away for the night he goes to work unless he was up all night working. Once in a while he might take the rest of the day off but only if he has been doing a lot of weekend work. It really wouldn’t look good to your employer if you walked into the office at 11 all well rested and said you were taking the rest of the day off because you were working since 6 am the previous day. It’s not like you stayed up all night fixing something so manufacturing could continue the next day. You met someone, got to eat at a restaurant and hang out at a hotel room.

But really, watch and see what your well respected coworkers do and just follow their lead. I’ve never heard of a salaried job that they expect you to work only 40 hours.

I’ve got one. No travel involved, though (unless I feel like playing runner for a while- usually because I want to get out of the office for a cigarette). My employer actively ensures that people aren’t putting in overtime- ie., the managing partner kicks all non-partners out of the building at their scheduled “home” time.

If you want to put in overtime, you have to do it early in the morning when nobody’s there to check on you, or at home.

He’s not.

What you do is you book a later flight so you get in later and be like “it doesn’t make sense for me to come into the office for just one hour. I’ll work from home for the rest of the day”.

Agree also. Most of my travel now is for my conference hobbies, but I used to travel tons for real work. Making a big stink is a dictionary example of penny wise and pound foolish. Do the traveling, do the work, and don’t quibble which will make you lose out to someone who doesn’t. I also have the benefit of being able to come in late for a doctor’s appointment or leave early for a play, once in a while. It has served me well over 30 years.

Until now I have always been salaried. I have traveled extensively for my job and I still find it deplorable that employers insist their people travel on Sunday to arrive for a Monday morning meeting. I completely agree that during the week, it’s a give and take business. I will work until the work is done and in exchange I can leave early for a doctor visit or shopping. The weekend travel, however, has been an annoyance of mine for years. Contrary to popular belief, I have a life outside of my employer. Unlike most of my co-workers, I ENJOY spending time with my family. I don’t use travel as an excuse to eat steak and get drunk. Asking an employee to travel on a weekend wouldn’t even be bad if it were the exception and appreciated. It’s expected, unappreciated, and it’s out of line.

<steps off soap box>

Yeah, just like all those autoworkers in Flint should have known better than to strike during a depression. Oh, wait.