June 8, 2004
TRUCK DRIVERS AND OVERTIME LAWS
By: John Moran, Associate Analyst
You asked if a linen and apparel services company is correct in claiming that its commissioned sales route drivers are exempt from overtime wage laws, including PA 03-239.
The Office of Legislative Research is not authorized to give legal opinions and this report should not be considered one.
It is impossible to make a complete determination of the status of such employees without more detailed information, but we will provide an overview of applicable federal overtime rules and PA 03-249. Federal law (and state law explicitly conforms with this) exempts a rather broad group of truck drivers if they are under the jurisdiction of the federal Department of Transportation through the Motor Carrier Act of 1935.
PA 03-249 applies only to delivery drivers and sales merchandisers who are not already exempt from overtime requirements under state or federal law and are paid salary and commission. This means if a group of truck drivers is exempt from overtime pay requirements under federal law, they will also be exempt under PA 03-249.
MOTOR CARRIER EXEMPTION UNDER THE FAIR LABOR STANDARDS ACT (FLSA)
FLSA provides for exemption from overtime pay for employees for whom the federal transportation secretary has authority, as provided under the Motor Carrier Act, to establish qualifications and maximum hours of work. This exemption applies to any driver, driver's helper, loader, or mechanic employed by a carrier and whose duties affect the safety of motor vehicles operating on public highways in interstate or foreign commerce. (A loader's work affects safety if he is responsible for the proper loading of the vehicle.) It applies to any private carrier hauling property and any contract carrier transporting property or passengers.
It also applies to employees driving on trips connecting with an intrastate terminal (rail, air, water, or land) in order to continue an interstate journey of goods. In other words, the employee remains in the state but the goods travel more than one state.
The exemption applies to employees who in the ordinary course of work perform, either regularly or from time to time, safety-affecting activities. An employee is exempt in all workweeks when he is employed in such work. This rule assumes that in all workweeks the continuing job duties include activities that affect motor vehicle safety. The exemption is applicable regardless of the proportion of such activities performed in a given week.
On the other hand, the exemption will not apply in any workweek where continuing job duties have no substantial effect on operational safety, as long as there is no change in duties. The Federal Department of Labor cites dispatchers, office personnel, and those who unload vehicles and those who load vehicles, but are not responsible for the proper loading, as employees typically not exempt from overtime pay rules.
A federal wage and hour investigator in Hartford, Heather Callahan, said her office looks at individual situations to determine whether a group of employees is exempt. She said it is difficult to comment on a situation without knowing the job duties in detail. She noted, for example, that employees handling goods bound for a destination out of state may be exempt even if they never travel out of state themselves. (The U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division, Hartford office, can be reached at 240-4160.)
PA 03-249, AN ACT CONCERNING THE CALCULATION OF OVERTIME PAYMENTS
This act prohibits any form of overtime pay other than the standard time and a half rate for any hours worked over 40 in a workweek for those (1) employed as a delivery driver or sales merchandiser, (2) paid on a salary and commission basis, and (3) not exempt from overtime rules under state law. The law was intended to bar variable rate overtime, a form of overtime that, as practiced by some companies, often meant the more hours and employee worked, the lower his overtime hourly pay rate was.