Are Home Health Aides Supposed to be Paid Travel Time and Mileage in Massachusetts?  What about under Federal Law?

We have represented numerous home health aides in Massachusetts.  There is a lot of confusion among HHAs as to whether their employers are required to pay them travel time and mileage.  This blog answers both of these questions.

What is the Massachusetts Rule for Paying Travel Time to Home Health Aides?  

Let’s first discuss the definition of travel time.  The term travel time generally refers to the time between patient appointments.   While the time between appointments is called “travel time,” it is considered work time just like any other activity during your work day.   Travel time does not include the time driving to the first appointment of the day or the time driving home from the last appointment of the day.  

The Massachusetts rule about travel time for HHAs is clear and simple:  Your employer has to pay you travel time. There is no room for negotiation by your employer. If they don’t pay you travel time, they violate the Massachusetts Wage Act.

What rate do they have to pay you for travel time?  While there is no clear rule on what hourly rate your employer has to pay you for travel time, we always take the position that travel time should be paid at your regular hourly rate, not a reduced rate.  If an employer tells you at the time that they hire you that travel time is paid at minimum wage and your accept the job on those terms, they may be able to pay you travel time at minimum wage.

What about paying HHAs for mileage in Massachusetts?  Again, the law in Massachusetts is very clear: employers are required to pay HHAs all “transportation expenses.”  Transportation expenses would include mileage and other expenses, such as tolls and parking.  

What rate they have to pay you for mileage has not yet been determined in the law.  We always take the position that the IRS mileage rates should be the standard for paying mileage.  The IRS rate is an aggregate rate that takes into account gas and wear and tear on your car.  We’ve seen some employers pay less than the IRS rate, for example 38 cents or 45 cents per mile.  Until a Court decides the rate that has to be used, we anticipate that the mileage rate paid to HHAs will continue to fluctuate from employer to employer.  

What about Federal Law?  Federal law also requires employers to pay travel time.  However, it does not expressly require employers to pay mileage.  Under federal law, expenses that bring you under minimum wage have to be reimbursed.  In most of our cases, we do not add claims under federal law for Massachusetts employees because Massachusetts wage law for HHAs is better than federal law.  

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