Can an employer force its employees to stay away from their home towns during time off so the company can save on travel expenses?

UPDATED: Nov 5, 2011

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Can an employer force its employees to stay away from their home towns during time off so the company can save on travel expenses?

I work for a subcontractor of a major communications company. The work involves travel all over the country. If I finish a project in one market on a Friday, I am forced to stay in that market until they decide where I will start to work on Monday. I was told the only way I could go home is if I incur the cost of the flights to get home and then back to where work will begin in a new market on Monday. I am not paid for my time over this weekend. The company covers hotel and transportation but no food costs and per diem is not provided. I am never paid for my travel time.

Asked on November 5, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Oregon


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Yes, a company  can do this:

1) A company is NOT required to reimburse employees for travel or hotel, provide a per diem, or otherwise pay for business travel; it can require them to pay the costs themselves, legally, though most companies don't do that for obvious reasons (few people, even in this economy, would work for them). Since a company controls whether and to the extent employees are reimbursed, it can set terms and conditions or limitations on when they are reimbursed for travel--including not paying them to travel home between assignments.

2) If you are not working on the weekend, the company does not need to pay you, even if you are not working in a different location.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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