Overtime Pay and Owner-Operators

Most truck drivers today are not paid any overtime. With the new legislation being introduced into congress, the Guaranteed Overtime Act for Truckers – this could be changing the future.

Truck drivers are typically paid a rate per mile. However, this rate does not include any downtime during the day. Downtime could be when fueling or when delayed at a shipper or receiver. In most cases, this causes the truck driver to lose out on time and money.

As most drivers will say – if the wheels are not moving, you are not making any money. Some drivers work 60-70 hours a week or more and feel things should change when it comes to overtime hours. Carriers are not necessarily breaking the law by not paying overtime – the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) helps regulate overtime pay. It has an exemption for truck drivers that was created to help protect them from working too much. However, now it seems that some are being taken advantage of.

Should Congress Remove the FLSA Exemption?

The impact of the exemption on larger carriers with a higher number of company drivers may be greater than on owner-operators. Some believe doing away with the FLSA carrier exemption may benefit all company drivers and owner-operators in a way that can cause the loading and unloading times to be more efficient and decrease.

Doing away with the FLSA carrier exemption may also benefit owner-operators by increasing rates. However, some feel that if the exemption is removed, carriers will offset the overtime by reducing company drivers’ time and look for more independent owner-operators to avoid paying overtime.

Has the Lack of Overtime Pay Affected Truck Driver Shortage and Turnover Rates?

With the turnover rate in the trucking industry being the highest in any industry, there is always talk about driver shortages. However, it may not be a shortage – it may be a retention problem, and the lack of overtime pay is one of the key contributors to the problem.

When a driver is unhappy – they quit, and in some cases, it is not a specific carrier they quit – it’s the whole trucking industry. Regardless of the career path anyone chooses, they want to be paid for their work hours.

Many people are looking at doing away with the exemption as something positive for the industry, but the benefits or consequences are not entirely clear.