Truck drivers are exempt from overtime pay, and if they work more than 40 hours in a week, their employer does not have to follow federal labor laws. Is this legal under the Fair Labor Standards Act?
The “are truck drivers entitled to overtime pay” is a question that has been asked before. The answer is yes, they are.
Some commercial truck drivers may be eligible to overtime compensation depending on their work responsibilities and other criteria, but the majority do not.
An employee may be misclassified as a contractor in any business. Employers use this on purpose in certain instances to avoid paying benefits to employees. Many truck drivers may question whether their classification is accurate and if they are entitled for perks like overtime pay.
What Do Truck Drivers Get Paid?
Unlike other professions, truck drivers seldom get overtime pay. Local drivers are much more likely to be paid on an hourly basis. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, delivery truck drivers earned $16.51 per hour in 2020, while light truck drivers earned $17.81 per hour. Hourly-paid heavy truck or over-the-road drivers allegedly received a median hourly wage of $22.66.
Despite the fact that hourly compensation is prevalent in many sectors, it is not as common in the trucking business. Some truckers discover that hourly pay is not as profitable as it once was due to federal restrictions limiting the amount of hours truck drivers may drive at a time or in a workweek.
Rather of being rewarded by the hour, most drivers are compensated by the mile. According to All Trucking, pay ranges from $0.28 to $0.40 per mile, with some drivers earning as much as $0.45 per mile. The average weekly mileage for drivers is anticipated to be between 2,000 and 3,000 kilometers. Per mile earnings are simpler to monitor than hourly pay, but they are subject to weather, traffic, speed restrictions, and other variables.
Truckers may be paid a fixed wage rather than by the hour or mile in certain circumstances. Salaries vary depending on a driver’s level of expertise, but they are generally linked with greater perks than other forms of remuneration.
Other variables, such as the kind of cargo a truck driver carries, have an impact on their income. Due to the expertise and licensing requirements, drivers that specialize in heavy lifting, livestock transport, hazmat transport, or other specialized transportation categories may be paid more than regular drivers. Pay rates will also differ depending on whether a driver works in a single state, a regional area, or across the road.
Do Truck Drivers Have a Right to Overtime Pay?
Some truck drivers may be eligible for overtime pay, while others may not.
Some truck drivers are free from overtime under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). To be excused from this additional compensation, a truck driver must meet the following criteria:
- They must work for a commercial or private motor carrier.
- They must carry out the responsibilities of a driver, driver’s assistant, loader, or mechanic, all of which have an impact on the safety of operating motor vehicles while carrying goods.
- They must not be covered under the overtime exemption for small vehicles (works with a vehicle weighing 10,000 pounds or less).
A driver may be eligible to overtime pay if none of these criteria apply.
How California’s Overtime Law May Affect Truckers
Employers, truckers, and state regulators have been arguing for years over how drivers should be categorized under California labor rules. A new legislation, AB 5, has the potential to upend the transportation sector by allowing many more independent contractors, including truckers, to be classified as employees eligible for overtime pay.
The trucking sector, on the other hand, fought back, launching a lawsuit against the state over the legislation. While the case was ongoing, a federal court imposed a restraining order on the state, prohibiting it from implementing AB 5 against trucking firms.
A state court judge has since decided that federal labor rules do not override California law. According to Freightwaves, the decision, which was issued in November 2020, puts AB 5 and the idea of truckers having job rights such as overtime one step closer to reality.
Another state legislation, the voter-approved Proposition 22, may, however, throw AB 5 for a loop. Prop 22 was an effort supported by ridesharing giants Uber and Lyft, as well as independent contractor drivers, according to The Trucker, that enables businesses to designate employees as independent contractors under more lenient conditions than AB 5.
While Proposition 22 was aimed at rideshare drivers, legal experts told The Trucker that the voter-approved measure leaves another gap in AB 5’s application. It’s unclear how trucker classification will be resolved in California, or if overtime compensation will become a reality for people who work in the sector.
What Is the Difference Between an Employee and a Contractor?
Employees are bound by their employer’s schedule and must carry out their responsibilities in line with corporate rules. They fill out Form W2 when employed, and state and federal income taxes, as well as FICA (Social Security) and Medicare taxes, are deducted from their salary. Benefits such as health insurance and retirement are often included in an employee’s pay package. It is the duty of the employer to provide employees with the tools and equipment they need to do their jobs.
A person must be permitted to carry out their given job responsibilities without direct supervision and work on their own schedule in order to be called an independent contractor. They are not bound by any schedules and are free to accomplish their work in whichever way suits them best.
When an employee is employed on a contract basis, they must complete a Form 1099. This is how their employer documents how much they were paid for your job. Taxes are not deducted from their income; it is their responsibility, and independent contractors often make quarterly tax payments. As an independent contractor, they are responsible for their own health insurance, retirement, disability, and other benefits, as well as providing their own equipment (in this instance, the car) and paying for their own gasoline and upkeep.
In this instance, being a contractor has the benefit of nearly all of these job-related expenditures being tax-deductible; with careful planning, most independent contractors pay very little income tax.
What Role Does Commercial Truck Driver Classification Play in Overtime Pay?
According to Transport Topics, more and more truck drivers have been classed as contractors rather than workers during the past 10 years. According to the news source, this represents a “fundamental change” in the transportation business.
More truck drivers are owner-operators who use their own vehicle to carry goods for a business; others are just contractors who utilize the firm’s equipment.
This change was allegedly made to save money for the businesses. Contractors do not get benefits from their employers and must, among other things, insure themselves against damage and incapacity. This implies that contractors are responsible for many of the expenses that an employer would be responsible for if an employee worked for them. It also implies that the employer is exempt from paying an independent contractor overtime compensation.
Unfortunately, according to the Department of Professional Employees, a company’s incentives for classifying a commercial truck driver as a contractor are numerous — the Department for Professional Employees notes that classifying a worker as an independent contractor rather than an employee saves employers between 20 and 40 percent in taxes, as well as savings from income and Medicare taxes.
Benefits for truck drivers, especially overtime, have suffered as a result of this. Contractors are legally their own employers and are not entitled to the same benefits as employees, such as workers’ compensation and overtime.
This implies that if a contractor is paid on a per-job basis, they may have to work lengthy hours for no extra compensation, or for not much more money if they are paid hourly.
A driver may be misclassified if they are handled similarly to employees, such as being exposed to heavy supervision or being forced to perform a task in a manner dictated by their employer rather than their own preferences.
In the trucking business, the issue of employee/contractor categorization is especially prevalent. Some drivers may be erroneously categorized and denied overtime without their awareness.
Is Overtime Pay Required for All Commercial Truck Drivers?
Overtime is not available to contractors or owner-operators of trucks. Because an increasing number of truck drivers are classed as independent contractors, they are entitled to less and fewer extra hours. Businesses may try to misclassify someone who should be classed as an employee in order to avoid paying that driver overtime in certain circumstances.
Furthermore, even if a commercial truck driver is an employee, overtime compensation may not be available. Many employees are entitled to overtime compensation under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
According to Ask the Trucker, the same legislation has a Motor Carriers Exemption, which states that “any employee with regard to which the Security of Transportation has the authority to set criteria and limit hours” is not entitled to overtime compensation.
Is It Possible That the Motor Carriers Exemption Won’t Apply?
Ask the Trucker goes on to say that states may have laws that vary somewhat from federal ones in certain instances. In certain situations, state law may be more beneficial to a worker and provide them with greater protection than federal law.
In a commercial truck driver overtime pay case, a New Jersey appeal court decided that if a state and federal statute clashed, a worker should be granted the protections of the legislation that offered them the more extensive safeguards. So, even if there is a Motor Carriers Exemption, depending on your place of residency, you may still be entitled for overtime.
Additionally, since the Motor Carriers Exemption may not apply to you, if you operate armored trucks, snow plows, salt trucks, tow trucks, or water trucks, you may still be eligible for overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Truckers who think they are entitled to overtime pay but are not receiving it should see a competent wage and hour lawyer. As part of a trucker wage and hour case or a class action lawsuit, these drivers may be entitled to seek reimbursement from their employers for unpaid pay.
Because filing a case may be intimidating, Top Class Actions has made it easier for you by matching you with an experienced attorney. A lawyer can assist you in determining if you have a claim, navigating the intricacies of litigation, and maximizing your possible reward.
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The “do hourly truck drivers get paid overtime?” is a question that has been asked before. The answer to the question is yes, but there are some exceptions.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are truck drivers subject to overtime pay?
A: Truck drivers are not currently subject to overtime pay.
How can trucking companies not pay overtime?
A: Trucking companies are exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act. This means that truck drivers do not have to be paid overtime, even if they work more than 40 hours in a week.
Are truck drivers exempt or non exempt?
A: Truck drivers are exempt from the law.
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