Do you have to pay truck drivers overtime?

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General overtime pay for most employees is time and a half. An employee who is making $20 an hour would begin making $30 an hour for overtime, for instance. In California, that starts after the eighth hour of work in a day or the fortieth hour of work in a week.  Under federal law, it starts after the fortieth hour in a weeks. There are also some situations where workers can get double time and be paid twice as much as their standard wage.

As the owner of a trucking and logistics company, you may be wondering if you have to pay your drivers overtime. Say that a driver has an important shipment that needs to be dropped off by a certain deadline, and the only way to get there is by working extra hours. Do you need to pay the truck driver time and a half for that work?

Many drivers are exempt

Generally speaking, drivers of trucks weighing over 10,000 pounds and especially “big rig” trucks are exempt from California’s overtime law.  This exemption can be found in California Wage Orders.  Wage Orders are documents produced by the State of California that govern a number of industries.  Wage Order No. 9 covers the transportation industry but several wage orders apply to commercial truck drivers.  Under the Wage Orders, drivers of trucks over 10,000 pounds gross vehicular weight or drivers whose working hours are subject to the regulations of the Department of Transportation are exempt from California overtime laws.

Drivers are also exempt from federal overtime law under the Fair Labor Standards Act due to the Motor Carrier Exemption. This exemption applies to drivers operating in interstate commerce, which includes in-state drivers whose work takes them into the ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland, or at rail yards throughout the state as well as those drivers whose work causes them to cross state lines.

There are some nuances to this and the interplay of transportation law and employment law is complicated. This is an area where it is important to get good information so you fully understand your obligations.