Truck Drivers Should Be Paid For Resting and Meal Breaks


Over-the-road truck driving can be a great job. It’s constantly in demand, which provides a measure of job security, and truck drivers can even make up to six-figures in salary. But OTR driving has a drawback – long-haul truckers are required to spend tons of time out on the road.

As a result of all this time on the road, truck drivers typically end up missing huge chunks of their family’s lives. But given just how many precious moments truckers miss out on, it seems logical (and ethical) to pay them for every second they are out on the road. Even if they are eating or resting.

And Class A Drivers is not the only one to think so.

Walmart to Pay California Truckers

During the first week of 2020, a California judge ruled in favor of Walmart truckers over unpaid breaks. Of course, truck drivers are legally required to take breaks as part of the Hours of Service (HOS)regulations. And in the past, this time has gone unpaid, despite the fact that truck drivers are forced to take the breaks andthey’re still in their trucks.

The unpaid forced breaks and HOS regulations have resulted in a number of grievances, especially when new devices such as Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) became mandatory for tracking the driving time of truck drivers.

But this recent ruling from California says that CPM (cents per mile)isn’t enough. The payment structure for truckers must include breaks. As a result of this case, Walmart is required to pay their 9,000 truckers about $54.6 million, or roughly $6,000 per person pending on lawyer fees.

Although payment for these breaks may seem small, it could cause a positive disruption in how trucking companies pay drivers.

Federal Ruling

California is not the only state aiming to ensure truckers are paid for their time. Arkansas ruled in favor of P.A.M. truck drivers back in 2018,establishing that yes, truckers deserve to be paid while they are sleeping, even if it is just minimum wage. Which just makes sense.

According to the United States Department of Labor, “Any work which an employee is required to perform while traveling must, of course,be counted as hours worked.” Since truckers must guard the cargo and hold their location while resting, technically they are still performing a service for their employer beyond the 14-hour mark.

Nevertheless, not everyone is on board with the idea of paying truckers for their time spent away from home.The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or FMCSA, went on the record at the end of 2018 that paying truck drivers for breaks “drags on the economy.”

Although few details were revealed to back up the claim, a 3% drop in overall productivity was sited during the announcement. At first glance, this seems almost as though truckers worked less when paid for their breaks. But in reality, this alleged “productivity” comes at the expense of truck drivers essentially performing work for free.

Truck drivers are only asking to be paid for the time that they’re actually working, which means time spent in the truck for their companies and not at home with their families and friends.

Paying truckers for the time spent resting, taking a break, or simply waiting around for loading to finish sounds like a good idea. After all, doing so would likely alleviate some of the stress and pressure truckers endure when having to wait.

And more positive experiences in the workplace tends to improve morale, which in turn is known to increase productivity. So let’s do things differently in 2020 and pay truck drivers for their time.