When Does a Technicians Pay Start and Stop?
Question: What determines when a service tech’s pay starts and stops? Is it when he leaves his house? When he arrives at the jobsite?
Answer: Time is compensable whenever the time being expended benefits the employer.
Driving in a company vehicle from home to worksite is compensable if doing so benefits the employer at all — for example, if the employee uses the time in the vehicle to receive assignments or otherwise conduct company business, or if it benefits the employer for the tech and his vehicle to go straight to the site instead of first to the shop.
Riding as a passenger in the same truck—that’s not compensable; the passenger is not necessary for getting the truck to the site.
Driving one’s own car from home to a jobsite—not compensable because that’s commuting.
Technicians who are PERMITTED (but not required) to take their vehicles home (i.e., they commute in a company vehicle) need not be paid for time spent driving to and from home because, again, commuting time is not compensable. This assumes that the employee is not doing company business while commuting, the commute from the last job of the day to the employee’s home is within the employee’s normal commuting area, the employee is not required to pay for the vehicle’s costs, and the employee and employer have an understanding that the employee will not be paid for such time.
If you REQUIRE your technicians to take a company vehicle home and drive it to or from work or a job site, the time driving becomes compensable.
Some points to remember:
- Time spent traveling during normal work hours is considered compensable work time.
- Time spent by an employee that is incidental to the use of the vehicle for commuting are generally not hours worked and do not have to be paid (e.g., getting gas or putting air in the tires).
- If an employer requires returning the vehicle to the shop at the end of the day, the time spent doing so is compensable because the activity benefits the employer.
This response is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion, nor is this column a substitute for formal legal assistance. For help with particular legal needs, members are invited to consult with Brooke Duncan III of Adams and Reese LLP. Mr. Duncan can be reached at 504-585-0220 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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