Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.
As a federal employee I believe I am entitled to travel comp time for the work in excess of my normal commute between my home and PDS office when I have to travel outside of normal work hours for TDY. Specifically, my home is 13 miles from my PDS office and my normal commute from work to home is 20 minutes. The airport is 26 miles from my home and 13 miles from my work and takes me 35 minutes to travel to the airport from home. I interpret the comp time rules to allow me to accumulate 15 minutes of travel comp time from for off-duty time spent traveling from home to the airport for TDY. My employer disagrees and says I am only allowed comp time once I arrive at the airport. My employer has identified the county that I live in as the normal commuting area and the airport falls within this area. Should I be given comp time for my commute from my home to the airport?
Per the Federal Workforce Flexibility Act of 2004, federal employees, when traveling away from their official duty station, may be entitled to compensatory time off for travel outside of regular working hours between an employee’s home and a transportation terminal, such as an airport, outside the limits of his/her official duty station. See 5 U.S.C. § 5550b. The amount of compensatory time, if available, is limited to the difference between the amount of time required for travel from the employee’s home to his/her regular duty station, and the amount of time required for travel from the employee’s home and the airport. 5 C.F.R. § 550.1404(d). In order to be entitled to compensatory time off for travel from home to the airport while detailed to a temporary work station, the airport must be outside the limits of the employee’s “official duty station.” If the airport is not located outside the geographical limits of the employee’s permanent duty station, then compensatory time off does not accrue until the employee arrives at the airport.
For the purposes of the Federal Workforce Flexibility Act, “official duty station means the geographic area surrounding an employee’s regular work site that is the same as the area designated by the employing agency for the purpose of determining whether travel time is compensable for the purpose of determining overtime pay.” 5 C.F.R. § 550.1403. When designating the geographic area surrounding an employee’s regular work site that shall constitute an employee’s the “official duty station,” the agency “may prescribe a mileage radius of not greater than 50 miles to determine whether an employee’s travel is within or outside the limits of the employee’s official duty station for determining entitlement to overtime pay for travel.” 5 C.F.R. § 550.112(j). As such, the Agency is authorized to determine, in its discretion, the geographic region that shall consist of an employee’s official duty station, so long as that geographic region does not exceed a 50 mile radius of the location of the employee’s permanent duty station.
In your case, it appears from your email that your home, your permanent duty station, and the airport each reside within the same county. I assume from your email that the county limits have been prescribed by your employer as the “official duty station,” for the purposes of the Act. Because you do not travel outside the county limits, you also do not travel outside the geographical region designate as your “official duty station,” and as such, you are not entitled to compensatory time until you arrive at the airport.
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