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.
Our supervisor wants us to account for all hours on a TDY travel day. If the work/hours do not account for 8 hours, we’re supposed to take leave or go into the office. To accommodate people at a TDY site, we usually start work later than our normal duty hours. Our supervisor also wants us to add up all the hours we work and travel in the day and anything over 8 hours is Travel Comp time. He said that we have to take leave for the early morning hours before we start work.
Per the Federal Workforce Flexibility Act of 2004 (the “Act”), 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 temporary duty station outside the limits of an employee’s official duty station. See 5 U.S.C. § 5550b; see also 5 C.F.R. § 550.1404(c). However, an employee is only entitled to compensatory time off “for time in a travel status away from the employee’s official duty station when the travel time is not otherwise compensable.” 5 C.F.R. § 55.1401 (emphasis added); see 5 C.F.R. § 550.1403 (“Compensable refers to periods of time that are credible as hours of work for the purpose of determining a specific pay entitlement, even when that work time may not actually generate additional compensation because of applicable pay limitations”). Because your tour of duty at the temporary duty station begins later than your normally scheduled tour of duty, while presumably still ending at your usually scheduled time, your travel time occurs during the hours of your normal tour of duty, or during “compensable time.” Because the Act only provides compensatory time of for travel time that “is not otherwise compensable,” or time greater than your regularly scheduled, 8-hour tour of duty, your supervisor appears to be correctly applying the OPM regulations.
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When on TDY, when do the working day start? When I leave the hotel or when I arrive to the duty station?
Tony, your TDY starts when you arrive at your duty station. For example, we were scheduled to work at a facility 20 miles away from our hotel. The work time started at 1400, we then left the hotel at 1315 in order to make it to the facility by 1400.
As an add on to Tony’s question, if working at 2 different work locations over a period of a TDY and one is outside the commuting distance of the hotel, can I charge that time to travel to the TDY location outside the commuting distance as time worked? Is there a Federal Regulation that points this out for civilian personnel working for the Govt?