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DOL Opinion Letter: Compensable Time for Sleeping Truck Drivers

Department of Labor Opinion Letter Clarifies Rest Compensation for Truck Drivers

On July 22, 2019 the Department of Labor clarified correct pay practices regarding ‘sleeper berths’ for truck drivers. 

This clarification came as a result of the special consideration regarding the ‘waiting to be engaged’ concept mentioned in the WHD fact sheet. The DOL’s Opinion Letter reversed the previous cap of eight hours of unpaid sleep time in a 24 hour shift. 

Department of Labor Truck Driver Compensation

This information comes directly from the Law Alerts in tryHRIS’s Compliance Database, which alerts you the moment Federal & State laws, regulations or requirements change.

**Before you implement new pay practices**

Contact your company attorney or our HR Advisors to discuss proposed changes prior to implementing.  

Prior Guidance

Under the WHD’s prior guidance, the FLSA was interpreted as follows:

  • Sleeping time may be excluded from hours worked where “adequate facilities” were furnished;
  • Only up to eight hours of sleeping time may be excluded in a trip 24 hours or longer; and
  • No sleeping time may be excluded for trips under 24 hours.

Browne v. P.A.M Transport Case Ruling

New Guidance under the Current DOL Opinion Letter

Per the newly released FLSA 2019-10 opinion letter, the Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division concluded that the time drivers are relieved of all duties and permitted to sleep in a sleeper berth is presumptively non-working time and is not compensable. However, there may be circumstances where a driver who retires to a sleeping berth is unable to use the time effectively for his or her own purposes.

Example of Exemptions
  • A driver who is required to remain on call while in the sleeping berth.
  • A driver required to complete paperwork, study job related materials or perform similar activity in the sleeping berth.
  • A rest period belonging to and controlled by the employer, in which the driver is considered ‘engaged to wait’.
  • For any reasons that result in rendering the driver unable to effectively sleep or engage in personal activities; in such cases, the time is compensable hours worked.  

Of note, an opinion letter is an official, written opinion by the WHD on how a particular law applies in specific circumstances presented by the individual person or entity that requested the letter. 

Read FLSA 2019-10

This letter, however, serves as non-binding guidance and should be considered alongside the current circumstances of the truck driver’s arrangements and the applicable state laws. 

**Before you implement new pay practices**

Contact your company attorney or our HR Advisors to discuss proposed changes prior to implementing.  

If law alerts and compliance changes have you a bit overwhelmed, our advisors can help your company navigate every new change, requirement, legislation, law and regulation. Additionally, we provide Certified Training (including Transportation, Loading Dock, Forklift Operator, OSHA & other related courses) for unlimited employees per company. Give us a call to see how we can help simplify compliance demands.

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