Ask The Trucker

Raising the Standards of the Trucking Industry

Jobs and Careersotr truckingPoliticsTruck Driving JobsTruckingtrucking companiestrucking life

Overtime Pay for Truck Drivers


Allen SmithBy: Aubrey “Allen” Smith

Professional truck drivers are no strangers to 70 hour workweeks.  It is a part of the job that is accepted by all truckers and eventually, one becomes accustomed to receiving only 3-5 hours of actual sleep per day.  That one day per week when a truck driver can finally shut down and catch up on much needed rest is long awaited for by all drivers.  This one aspect of trucking is the major cause as to why so many who enter trucking as a career will fail.   If you are planning for a 9 to 5 job . . . then trucking is not for you.

Whether it be local driving, regional or long haul trucking, the workweek for truckers are long and the truck is always calling you.  With 60 and 70 hour workweeks, why are truckers not given overtime pay?    According to the most recent study in 2008,  median hourly wages of  tractor-trailer drivers were $17.92 with the middle 50% earning between $14.21 and $22.56.  The lowest 10% earned less than $11.63,  and the highest 10% earned more than $27.07 per hour.   An overall average hourly wage for truckers is difficult to determine due to the fact that geographical location must be considered.   Using an average pay of .32 cents per mile at 2500 miles per week, how would this compare to drivers being paid hourly with overtime pay included?

Running under the straight CPM rate, a driver would earn $800 per week gross.  Setting an average hourly rate of only $12.00 per hour, a driver would earn $1,020 gross in a 70 hour workweek.   Using the above median wage of $17.92 per hour, a driver working 70 hour weeks, would pull in $1,523.20 gross per week.   The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to pay most employees the statutory overtime rate of 1 ½ times regular wages for hours worked in excess of 40 in a single workweek.  So why does this not apply to truck drivers?   For the answer, we have to look at the Motor Carrier Exemption under the FLSA.   Yes, wouldn’t you know that there is an exemption for truckers?

Section 213(b)(1) of the FLSA provides that overtime requirements do not apply to “any employee with respect to whom the Secretary of Transportation has power to establish qualifications and maximum hours.”

The Motor Carrier Exemption under the Fair Labor  Standards Act (FLSA)
Section 13(b)(1) of the FLSA provides an overtime exemption for employees who are within the authority of the Secretary of Transportation to establish qualifications and maximum hours of service pursuant to Section 204 of the Motor Carrier Act of 1935,

Read More : The Motor Carrier Act of 1935 (P.L. 74-255, 49 Stat. 543) gave the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC), a federal government agency, the authority to regulate interstate truck and bus companies, known collectively as “motor carriers.” The ICC’s new powers with respect to motor carriers were similar to those it had over railroads, which it had regulated since 1887. The ICC could decide which companies could become motor carriers, what services they could offer, and what rates they could charge. The constitutionality of the act rests on Congress’s authority to regulate interstate commerce under Article I, section 8 of the U.S. Constitution.

An Appellate Court recently upheld a New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development ruling that the state’s version of this exemption applies only to businesses primarily engaged in trucking or moving and storage.   What this established is that under the FLSA, when federal and state wage laws are in conflict, employees must be given the benefit of the law that is the most favorable to them.   Drivers for the New Jersey trucking company sued for back overtime wages.   The company argued that its trucking operation was completely separate from its retail furniture business, and that the states’ trucking industry exemption applied with respect to its transportation and distribution employees.  The Court disagreed, ordering the company to pay nearly 500 current and former delivery workers more than $2 million in back overtime wages.   Therefore, even though the truck drivers  might have been covered by the federal exemption from overtime pay, the narrower New Jersey exemption did not cover them.  What this established for drivers is that state laws must be considered when it comes to the Motor Carrier Exemption as cited under the FLSA.   Furthermore, I found what could also be another discrepancy.

( Non Exempt Employees) The FLSA, under the United States Department of Labor, there are two ways in which an employee can be covered by the law, meaning they are entitled to receiving overtime pay:   ”

  • Enterprise Coverage  and
  • Individual Coverage

Enterprise coverage pertains to those businesses  which have at least two employees and that:

  • Have an annual dollar volume of sales or business  of at least $500,000

Individual Coverage applies to employees whose work regularly involves them in commerce between states.  According to the FLSA  individual workers are covered under the law who are:  “Engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce.”

Examples of employees who are involved in interstate commerce include those who:

  • Produce goods that will be sent out of state
  • Regularly make telephone calls to persons located in other States
  • Handle records of interstate transactions
  • Travel to other States on their jobs and
  • Do janitorial work in buildings where goods are produced for shipment outside the State.

Furthermore, the U. S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division states that drivers are exempt under the law if:

  • The employer is shown to have an involvement in interstate commerce,  and
  • The employee could, in the regular course of employment, reasonably have been expected to make an interstate journey or could have worked on the motor vehicle in such a way as to be safety-affecting.

Should these statements have a direct affect on local drivers, presently not receiving overtime pay from their employer?  Under the “Safety Affecting Activities” :

“Only drivers, drivers’ helpers, loaders who are responsible for proper loading, and mechanics working directly on motor vehicles that are to be used in transportation of passengers or property in interstate commerce can be exempt from the overtime provisions of the FLSA under Section 13(b)(1).

Therefore, if a driver is working as a local driver only, but their company also engages in interstate operations, should he or she should be entitled to overtime compensation?
Are these discrepancies between the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Motor Carrier Exemption and the authority of the Secretary of Transportation?

Are professional truck drivers being deprived of receiving overtime pay?   According to the Wage and Hour Division .  . .is it possible?

Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 

Allen Smith

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,



By: Allen Smith

Allen Smith is a 37 year veteran who started at an early age in a household goods family moving business. He began driving straight trucks in 1977 and moved to the big rigs in 1982. His experience within the industry includes; owner operator, company driver, operations manager, and owner of a long distance HHG moving business, taking many of the long haul moves himself when needed. Allen Smith, a truck driver advocate who is driven by the desire to help others succeed within an industry where injustice, unrewarded sacrifice, and lack of respect and recognition exists. Allen and his wife Donna are hosts of Truth About Trucking ”Live” on Blog Talk Radio. Other websites include AskTheTrucker, TruckingSocialMedia, NorthAmericanTruckingALerts, TruthAboutTrucking, and many Social Media websites. In 2011 Allen and Donna hosted the first Truck Driver Social Media Convention, designed to create unity and solutions for the trucking industry. This is now being extended through the North American Trucking Alerts network as those within the industry join forces for the betterment of the industry. Allen strongly supports other industry advocates who are also stepping up to the plate to help those who share honesty, guidance and direction. He believes that all those involved in trucking need to be accountable for their part within the industry, including drivers, carriers, brokers, shippers, receivers, etc… The list of supporters and likeminded people grow daily, networking together and sharing thoughts and ideas for the betterment of trucking. He has coined the popular phrase "Raising the standards of the trucking industry"

View all posts by Allen Smith →

Tagged: , , , , ,

24 Responses to Overtime Pay for Truck Drivers. - Post a Comment

  1. Chris

    I understand the exception to FLSA, but what I don’t understand is the justification for the exception.

  2. Jeff

    The exemption under the FLSA act has been misused, it only exempts the employee from working overtime if their job effects the safe operation(i.e. driving) or if they work on the truck in a way that would effect the safe operation of the truck. The current laws on the books need to be redone the Secretary of Transportation only put restrictions on the number of hours a CDL driver can safely drive. The key here is “SAFETY” not paying a CDL driver overtime does not make him or her safer. Think about it.

    • Michael Starnes

      i’m sure this is an old post but i just wanted to say i’m seeing this in the same light as you. not sure how a law that takes away money from those doing safety sensitive jobs is going to help them be safer. the companies for the most part are going to take advantage of the drivers willingness to be local with their families daily. the driver is just thankful to have a job. most of us have come home off the road to ours kids grown. that’s when it smacks the driver and they turn in their OTR for LTL. i do my job to the fullest regardless of the pay. id feel better about myself if the government had my back and helped me keep the money that’s rightfully mine due to over time. will have to see tomorrow when i call to get answers about the pay i’m receiving from the local company i just started with last Monday. had 45 hours in due to training and asked if the 5 was time and a half Friday. they said no and i didn’t argue. calling only to get facts before i talk with HR. hoping things have been getting better over the last 8 years. have to wait and see.

  3. Jeff

    I live and work in ILL. and have contacted the DOL as well as the Secretary of Transportation about this issue, neither the DOL or the Secretary of Transportation claim they have jursidiction over the overtime issue, they both say time and again” we don’t have anything to do with that” and point the finger at the other.

  4. Robert

    I don’t understand why we don’t get overtime. I am home every nite. We work by the hour,we should be paid overtime.

  5. Allen Smith

    Because of what is pointed out in the post:

    Section 213(b)(1) of the FLSA provides that overtime requirements do not apply to “any employee with respect to whom the Secretary of Transportation has power to establish qualifications and maximum hours.”

  6. Anthony

    I believe that all truckers should be paid by the hour and paid overtime. Each highway in America would be a safer place to drive. Drivers are encouraged to get more miles in on their shifts and it encourages unsafe driving and also speeding. Overtime should be paid to everyone that works!!! Driving is a well respected job, cdl transport drivers undergo drug testing, they have to keep up endorsements which are expensive to them, they are on call available and get things where they need to be safely, that is the most important aspect.

  7. Bob Prince

    i need help im a otr driver and i have a boss who has not paid me in over a month what should i do he owes me over 6 pay checks and i am post to get paid weekly

  8. Bob Prince

    i need help im a otr driver and i have a boss who has not paid me in over a month what should i do he owes me over 6 pay checks and i am post to get paid weekly and i cant go go no where cuz he wont pay for the fuel and doesnt keep up with insurance and doesnt keep his trucks maintained what should i do

  9. license Music

    Oh my goodness! Incredible article dude! Thank you, However
    I am experiencing troubles with your RSS. I don’t know the reason why I am unable to subscribe to it. Is there anyone else having the same RSS problems? Anyone that knows the solution can you kindly respond? Thanx!!

    • Allen Smith

      I’ll see what’s going on with it….thanks for the heads up!!

  10. wayne herold

    did you ever see the movie F.I.S.T WAKE UP AMERICA!!!!!!

  11. Julius

    I am a driver for a Armored Company and This Company was paying over time but someone out of Cooperate didnt have enough to do one week and did some research on overtime. So whatever websites he or she was researching decided that changes could be made to the employees.
    All overtime pay has been stopped. Hours were suppose to be slashed and more routes were to be added. Well were in going into our 4th month
    of no overtime pay. But still working 55 plus hrs a week. The guards on the trucks were affected as well. Which is totally unfair. I feel like I am the lone Ranger on this and work so many hours I cannot afford the wait time to make phone calls. And no one to turn too. Been actively looking for a different job but no success. Need help.

    • Allen Smith

      I’m not sure if you are on FaceBook or LinkedIn, but there is a heavy discussion going on right now regarding driver wages.
      We are urging everyone to be active on the FMCSA website and give their comments.

      If you are attending MATS this weekend ( MID AMerica Truck Show) in Louisville, KY we suggest you attending the seminar which will address this issues.

      James Lamb Owner/CEO of, President of AIPBA, Former DOT/Criminal Investigator will be hosting the seminar
      This is the announcement on LinkedIn

      “If you’re going to MATS and you attend our seminar on Saturday, you might just win $100! POLL: Are drivers cheating on their logs because they are not paid enough?

      Over the next few months we will be launching a new paradigm designed to increase independent and company driver pay. And it won’t involve breaking the law and HOS rules and covering up the violation through fraud. You’re gonna love this, truckers… so stay tuned… We will be introducing our new brand at the Mid America Trucking Show in Louisville, KY during the AIPBA seminar on Saturday at 11:15 AM. So don’t miss it.

      SAT. MAR. 29 11AM


  12. […] I write about these discrepancies between the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Motor Carrier Exemption and the authority of the Secretary of Transportation in a previous post: Overtime pay for truck drivers. […]

  13. Greg Thompson

    With electronic logs and technology in place now, drivers could get paid by the hour and eliminate the CPM. Its always been a race against the clock promoting speeding and other dangerous habits to make money. OTR drivers have long put up with this issue and let it go. This is why the turnover is high and a constant influx of new drivers are constantly replacing those discouraged by the low wage. Trucking company’s, Goverment and the DOT, like things the way they are. Everyone makes money except the hard working drivers who sacrafice seeing their families and grow old and unable to retire like everyone else. The cycle is tiring and unrewarding. Most people coming into the industry are people who have lost there jobs or new residents who can’t speak english. Drivers used to be the Knights of the road and well regarded by motorists. Not anymore. If you really want change in the industry and be paid like you should, these laws need to be changed. If they continue down this road, it will be nothing more than modern slavery…

  14. Brandon

    I am in the intermodal trucking industry in Memphis, TN. My boss mandates that we work 60 to 70 hours per week. I, along with about 30 others, only drive locally. We live in a Tri-State area, so he claims that he doesn’t have to pay OT. I need some advice on what, if anything I can do, besides leave the industry. Thanks

  15. Mo

    It is the deliberate malfunction of male criminals in congress of U.S.A. These thieves who steal our tax money for their own present and future protection do things that would hardly jeopardize their interest. We allow this happen to us in this country and it is the samething in other nations too. Parliamintary system is the most corrupt system of government for now and future, it is very old and must be changed to a new formation that people can benefit rather than individuals. In my opinion they are extortionist and criminals. Workers must have the right to be protected in the interest of global economy, we must work together and help one another, but unfortunately we always blame others for our errors. This must stop as soon as possible. We must advocate peace and friendship to create better global society. We can do it.

  16. Hank Lank

    I recognize propaganda when I see it pal. Your article is designed to make it feel like a pat on the back is just as well, if not BETTER than actually receiving an extra 400-500 dollars a week. It is not. It is disturbing and out right criminal that one of the few industries left in the U.S. that is not forced by law to pay overtime, just so happens to routinely wrap its employees up for 60-70 HRS a week. It is a shame that this is the status-quo. If the people at the top of these transportation companies were not cashing six-figures, there would really be no passionate feelings in regards to the OT. There definitely needs to be some changes in this policy. Maybe, we shouldn’t start the trucks up boys until we are fairly compensated.

    • Dan

      That’s what I did today for Graham Trucking in Spalding Mi. Shut the truck off and get out!! Make your demands be know and stay home and find another job!!

  17. Joe Simarano

    I worked for a trucking company. I was paid time and a quarter for all work after 40 hours. I took the job because I was told I would be trained to do tanker work, start at $18.00 an hour get insurance benefits after 60 days. Sounded good. I started at $17.00 an hour, was put on dry van work after being trained for 3 days as to ding tanker work. After 5 months I still did not get any insurance benefits. After 5 months I had enough of this small time operators bs. I got into an altercation over it and quit in disgust. That’s how I resolved the problem. It’s not right and it’s not fair that this practice is allowed to continue. I am looking for another job. I will not work over 40 hours if I do not get paid OT. I got paid at the rate of time and a quarter for all hours over 40. I told the owner what he could do with his time and a quarter when I left. I filed a compliant with the attorney generals office who would not do anything. That’s what happened tp me. I am now looking for a different type of work. Screw trucking, let the illegal aliens get treated like crap. If one agrees to get paid by the load or by the mile or percentage. Then one is agreeing that overtime is out. But when you agree to get paid hourly that’s another thing. And that’s my story that I would like to share with you.

  18. JD

    The power of unionization is tremendous. Yes the left wing idealism that is bedeviled by the right wing taking on the disguise of being conservative that made the USA a great place to live, work and die. A national commercial truckers union with the capacity of negotiation would probably drive the industry to even greater crimes but without unity the truckers days are numbered for automation. If we don’t defend ourselves what do corporate bullies have to lose?

  19. […] working conditions for truckers are somewhat of a function of employment laws. For example, truck drivers are largely exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act. While better laws for truckers would probably help attract more drivers, the trucking […]

  20. […] the same law has a Motor Carriers Exemption, which says that “any employee with respect to whom the Security of Transportation has the power […]

What do you have to say about this?

To the top