Q. Isn’t travel time for business trips equivalent to working time?

A. Travel time for business trips is not treated as working time unless the employee is under the supervision or work instruction of a company. unless the employee is instructed to be available to carry out commands or do whatever work may be necessary for the company during the trips or has pre-arranged work to do during the trips.

Working hours are determined whether or not the employee is under the supervision or instruction of the company based on factors such as location, time, and obligation to follow company rules as well as the nature and method of work. Working hours stipulated in Article 32 of the Labor Standards Act are the hours during which employees are under the supervision and work instruction of the company.

Companies that apply the Off-Site Working Hours System stipulated in Article 38, Paragraph 2, Item 1 of the Labor Standards Act treat employees on business trips as if they work the prescribed working hours because it is difficult to calculate working hours, including travel hours, of business trips. Even for companies that do not apply the Off-Site Working Hours System, the way employees spend their time on the Shinkansen or on airplanes while traveling is often left to the discretion of the employees. It cannot be said that they are on duty at that time, and that time does not fall under working hours.

However, if employees receive instruction from the company while they are on the move and perform their work, that time will be treated as working hours. How about going on a business trip on a holiday? For the same reason as above, if the employee is not under the supervision or instruction of the company, the time on the trip does not get treated as working hours, so there is no need for the company to pay overtime allowance.

The following notice entitled “Business Trip on a Holiday” was issued by the Director of Labor Standards Inspection Office. “Holidays during a business trip may not be treated as holiday work even if the employee travels on the same day, unless otherwise instructed such as for the monitoring of goods during the trip.” This notice is interpreted as meaning that employees do not have to engage in any special work when traveling on a holiday, and that work would not be treated as holiday work under the Labor Standards Act. Based on this interpretation, many companies do not pay holiday premium pay, etc., but rather pay only daily allowance or the business trip allowance for the travel dates.

Miho Hoshi