New guidance by the Department of Labor has made a small but important change that may have a significant impact on trucker paychecks. It has withdrawn previous guidance regarding whether or not truckers should get compensated for time that they are in a sleeper berth.
In 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor published a letter which set back trucker pay reforms significantly. The opinion letter stated that when drivers are not driving, that can be considered “nonworking time that is not compensable.” But as any trucker knows, just because you’re not rolling, doesn’t mean you’re free to do as you please.
DOL rules require that truckers – like all employees – earn at least minimum wage. When you split up a driver’s wages into the hours in that two-week pay period, which hours do you count as “work?” Prior to 2019, judges had ruled time and again that any time spent doing something necessary for the performance of your job could be considered compensable time.
Drivers were able to bring lawsuits against their carriers for paying them well under the federal minimum wage when all compensable hours were accounted for. On multiple occasions, megacarriers were ordered to pay members of large class action lawsuits back wages to bring them up to minimum wage retroactively.
DOL’s 2019 letter called that rule “unnecessarily burdensome for employers.” The legal opinion of the DOL was that hours spent in the sleeper berth during off-duty time should not count toward hours worked since drivers are “relieved from all duties.”
With the change in the White House has come a new cabinet. The new Department of Labor leadership has announced that they are withdrawing that 2019 letter. They noted in their announcement that the previous letter’s opinion had been contrary to previous judicial rulings. It had even been actively ignored by federal courts who called the argument “unpersuasive.”
While officially withdrawing the 2019 letter does not change any laws, it makes clear that the federal government stands firmly on the side of truck drivers on this issue. This could mean that the driver pay reforms that have lost their footing in recent years could be returning.
Source: DOL, truckinginfo, freightwaves
58 comments. Add a comment.
george jones says
That law will never be passed we will.never be be paid to b in the sleeper birth . It would me nice though . Freight rates don’t go up however fuel does some of us are loosing our backsides out here
Ace Hardware pays its drivers for time in the sleeper berth.
So does Walmart but they are a totally different beast.
Ignorance of freight rates not increasing keeps drivers blinded to reality. Freight rates have increased for years however, the rates that are being paid to drivers have decreased or stayed flat. If drivers don’t get raises every year, the reality is you work harder, longer while getting poorer, poorer.
Brian Chapman says
Gotta work for the right company. I used to get paid $80 for a layover sleeping in the truck after 2 days.
Donna Wilson says
As any driver knows, you are never really off duty when on the road. Whether you are in a motel or a truck stop parking lot you are watching & safe guarding your employers expensive equipment & possibly a load. The only time I didn’t worry about my truck was when it was parked in a manned yard & other sets of eyes were watching it.
Correct. If any driver is under a load they are always on duty till not under a load.
GORDON BOURG says
Can you say Autonomus Vehicle?
This is just going to spur on the AT developers to even greater heights of rushed and reckless development methods.
The sooner they can make these things the norm in commercial transit, the sooner they can stop paying truckers and destroy am industry from within.
Burl Tolley says
Let’s allow the “job marketplace” to determine whether and how much drivers are paid for such as sleeper time, completing paperwork, pre-trip/fueling, etc. and keep Big Brother out of the way! There are “start-up” driving jobs just like most other professions. Once a driver accumulates good experience and a good record for, say, a few years or so, then he/she can take a hike from that company and go to one that pays & compensates drivers much better. That’s what I did…
While I agree with your statement, to a point, the fact is there are far more terrible companies than good. Think professional sports🤔. Only a select few get to the big leagues. Glad you found a good one, Not everyone can.
Erik Kloeppel says
I’d love to see citations for that. While, of course, I’ve not driven for even many, much less most, companies, I’ve NEVER driven for a bad one. It might say something about the driver if he drives for a “bad” company.
Apparently you’ve never heard of collusion.
We are in the top 3 for hazardous workplaces and we live 17 years less. I think that warrants an above minimum wage paycheck No?
If you aren’t making above minimum wage driving a truck that’s your fault. Tell me where at home you can earn 1500-2000 weekly. And no driver, laying on that ass in the bunk ain’t paid time. You ain’t on the clock at a warehouse job when you clock out are you?
Obviously a company troll. But I’ll bite. Earning $1500-2000/wk is not difficult as long as you put in the same hours. Big difference in working 70 hrs a week vs 40🤷🏻♂️. Then there’s the cost of living on the road which is for more expensive than eating meals at home. There’s also the cost of family time, for many that’s very valuable. When all things are considered a driver makes significantly less than someone working from home earning half as much.
Erik Kloeppel says
When you are at home asleep from that warehouse job, are you responsible for the building and it’s contents? There’sa great deal of justification for paying a driver for 24 hours a day, and darn little for NOT.
Difference is, at a warehouse job you can get in a car and go where you please. An OTR job you are not afforded that opportunity when you have 10 off. Not too hard to figure out. Therefore you take 24 hours per day times days on the road into your gross that week a d tell me what your making an hour.
but the people in the warehouses do not work 60-70 hours a week and if they did with overtime after 40 at 1 and 1/2 times their normal wage they would probably come close to that
I’m not at home in MY Bed!
You need to research a little bit more!
tracey smith says
Good point but I also understand that for a company, labor is one of their biggest cost. They are always trying to chip away whatever they can get away with. I would hate to see us lose the wages we do have to cheap, legal AND illegal workers (as did millions of skilled, highly paid carpenters and tradesmen in construction), because of cost of labor
Another one gets it.
Let’s see if that doesn’t get dispatch motivated to get drivers home to Their families instead of waiting unpaid for 56 hours for a load on Monday.
Mike Durham says
Burgernomics:. Make better wages at a fast food restaurant based on hours worked.
Michael William Jamison says
Does this mean that if you are out from Monday to Saturday. You should be paid minimum wage for the hours spent in the sleeper berth?
Removing the “low skilled labor” designation would be a better option and probably help a little more. BUT, autonomous is coming fast and furious, and like govt. told the coal miners, we could always learn to code. Sarcasm mode on
I did learn to code. Software engineering work can be done anywhere in the world, it’s nearly impossible to tax the import or export of software or ideas – and you don’t need to speak English fluently or clearly, to do it.
People in India can live like kings on US$2/hour. Don’t expect to recover the cost of getting trained or qualified to write code in the United States – it’s far cheaper to ship the work overseas, than to ship the workers to the United States and pay the market – or minimum – wages.
Very good points you make.
I can now see this as being 40 hours at $14.00 = $560.00 plus 30 hours overtime = $630.00 for a total of $1190.00. Then seeing as you worked all of your hours allowed by DOT then you will have to do a reset which you will not have to be compensated for cause you can’t be on the clock and get a reset. Also I believe that there is still a rule on the books that interstate commerce carries do not have to pay overtime this could end up costing drivers pay and more importantly home time.
The real issue here is “retroactively”. That is like sending you to prison for your grandfathets crime. Once they do it on 1 thing, they will do it on everything else. Suddenly repatriations comes to mind.
And rest assured- if you get retroactive pay from a carrier that was going by the laws and regs of the time- the IRS is going to be there to ensure they get their back taxes from you- most likely interest and penalties included
Calm yourselves children Just Another mouthful of smoke being blown up our keesters. We won’t see any change. Big brother always finds ways to not pay
Martin Waller says
I get paid $42 every night I sleep in the truck.
you must be a Walmart driver
To all the drivers fighting for minimum wage: You are beginning to act like McDonalds workers. You show me ONE MINIMUM WAGE JOB that pays $2000 a week!!! now that the math is there for the idiots, SHUT THE HELL UP.
You keep pushing higher wages? buy your own damn truck, get your own damn authority, and book your own loads. See what your “paycheck” becomes, compared to a guaranteed weekly check. oh and don’t get me started on what you have to pay in taxes as a self employed person. Just shut up, drive, and cash your checks.
Juan QueTeDejo ElculoAncho says
Why do you have to respond in that manner? Why do you feel the need to insult ppl in order to prove a point? Your doing well for yourself? Congrats. I’m sure you were born a smart man. But let’s be honest, even just for a second. You have to admit most truckers are under paid. Especially for the amount of time spent out on the road. When I first signed up to be a truck driver, I never imagined I would sit around a lot and wait for loads and make less money than a warehouse worker…
Erik Kloeppel says
If you spend a lot of time sitting and making that little, you should consider changing companies. I’ve never worked for a company that willingly let me sit- they have truck payments. Before I went O/O, I chose to be out three-four months at a time, with maybe two resets during that time.
Any customer that jacked me around was one I would never return to.
Charles Barber says
Everyone do not make that much a week. Everyone not in your tax bracket// stop looking down on others.. you sound Very Entitled..
Very few company drivers make 2k a week. Im one that does when my sector of the industry is in operation. Its been shut down and most likely will not be back until next year, if Im reading the tea leaves correctly. Fortunately that 2k plus I was earning each week has allowed me no debt and the ability to refuse to take any ole freight job. Personally I refuse to do it. Guys in my position, as company drivers, are few and far between. Telling people “shut up” makes YOU a big part of the problem. What a backward douchey statement.
$2K a week at 50 cents a mile dived by 6 days a working week 666.6 miles a day. I here big mileage pay but it is rare to say the least and then running 666 miles a day is very unrealistic in the real world of driving.
Some weeks we move every night some weeks 1 or 2. The pay is the same. Fortunately.
It’s probably is tough getting started as an owner op.. do bear in mind the bigger companies and more established make what 2k -12k per load PROFIT. Usually 2k-5k range. You sound like a redneck chill out. You know how quickly trucks are paid off in those lanes. Just a fyi there are trucker app and brokers that can dispatch you at a very high cut. An owner op makes since when you’re able to pay off the truck in full. Plenty of training companies that would be glad to give you a good rate
Erik Kloeppel says
I think that cut for the company might be a bit overstated. Certainly not as PROFIT. They have a pile of expenses the company driver never sees: truck payment, insurance, fuel, maintenance, office / facilities, personnel.. off hand, I’d say they might see 2-7% profit on any given load. And much of that, if the company isn’t stupid, goes to replacing the fleet, and growth.
Don’t lease a truck from a company! Go to dealer and get your pin truck new or used. Just make sure it has a warranty. And don’t lease it to a company that’s going to pay you less than $2.00 a mile and don’t have any freight.
It’s worth noting that there are few (if any) minimum wage jobs that require you to work 70 hours a week, don’t pay overtime, do not guarantee a pot to go to the bathroom in or running water to wash… anything… in…
Look, the closest legitimate low-wage comparison might be enlisted military service, but that at least comes with job security, training, the GI bill, medical and retirement pension benefits – and they make sure that you are fed and housed in some manner, at least. Trucking comes with none of that, and self-employment in trucking removes the last of what little protection from predatory practices, still remained. It’s fine if you have a lot of money to start with, or a generous patron – but most new truckers just have vultures watching over them, and that’s what employer and lender regulation is supposed to be there for… to protect the vulnerable from exploitation. It’d be different if everyone got to negotiate from an equal footing – but we don’t. Some of us are still wage slaves, because the best alternatives available to us amount to being jobless, homeless, or corpses.
Be happy that we still want to work, and that we aren’t just angling for some free COVID or Social Security Disability money.
Ray M. says
When was the last time you seen a McDonalds worker drive 5000 miles or more a week , go through the hell to get a CDL (REAL CDL SCHOOL ) not some super carrier that almost hands them out like trial bites in Shaws Super Markets . I’m talking about dealing with four wheelers every F>>king day and road rage . Having to live in a place smaller than a prison cell , SSS at pilots , loves and others and furthermore spend countless time away from your loved ones .
Should I go on ? Yeah i’m a real trucker ! Buying your own truck as I did is still like working for minimum wage . Why do you think the old timers are getting out of the business ? Because they can’t drive — WRONG THEY ARE JUST SMARTER THAN CELL PHONE KNOW IT ALL YOUNGERS . We are getting slowly pushed out by super carriers and there crooked brokers . How long do ya’ll think we can keep competing against slime bag brokers .Everyone with balls stop driving for a week see what happens .Should be able to do that no problem owning your own truck with your own authority
Right Michael ?
David Anderson says
Do your homework on a job before you take it and once you take it don’t b**** about it
Then the lowball companies only have one choice get up or get out
A valid suggestion only when doing your homework yields better alternative options. If your choices are wage slavery, poverty, death, or institutionalization; all research *can* buy you is the opportunity to complain.
Who are you to take that away, too?
Trying to sleep in the top bunk while the truck is rolling on poorly maintained roads should be compensated! They act like they care if you get sleep but you’re really not when team driving. Three bunk trucks with students should not be allowed especially with covid.
They aren’t allowed, and they never were. Sleeping in the top bunk while the truck is moving has always been one of those rules that everyone breaks, because the alternative is having to live with all of those bodies in a tiny space for longer, and for less money – and enforcement of the rule never happens until after the accident, when everyone was going to be fired, anyway.
Even sleeping in the bottom bunk, while the truck is moving, requires the use of restraints that almost no one ever uses. Who can sleep like that?
Matthew Eitzman says
Take it or leave it.
Jeremy M says
in Canada,big fight always going on in courts about Canada Revenue Service making things difficult for transportation equipment operators (mostly truckers) to “deduct”/”claim” meal allowance since 1993. This is what is supposed to compensate those who work on the road for all expenses. Tax return always up around $3000.00 this deduction alone,for me. Others will get more if they’re long haulin’. Log book is only “receipt”or proof of deduction required in my case (company driver,paid hourly rate) Always something new about it every year it seems. Have to make it difficult,they do. An accountant familiar with this deduction is required. Around $200/year for accountant to due my tax return.
I pay over $400. And it’s well worth it!
You make good money while on the road, sleeping in the truck is part of the job.
Those of you who say the cost of living on the road is high…its called a fridge…some/most of you could stand to skip a few meals a day anyhow…go take a walk while your at it.
Anyhow, go ahead and bankrupt your company, better rates for me.
Azzure Logistics says
I understand labor wanting to be paid to sleep, who wouldn’t?
Unfortunately these same guys will undercut established companies, sometimes at a loss, when they get their own trucks and authority,
Not one truck should be rolling for less than $2.50 a mile.
Now that we the people have this new administration and fuel costs have responded to policies in kind, it might be closer to $3.00 a mile.
Without a healthy profit, how do you expect your employers to pay you to sleep?
If you’re ON-DUTY, your negotiated rate should cover your time.
If you’re sleeping … Really?
It makes more sense to bonus safe drivers that go above and beyond and drive efficiently.