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  • Field Service Tech Pay Laws

    I drive a service van from my home to a job location in my employer picked work area. Which my employer changes when ever they want. The van has a sat. tracker and can only be used for work no personal use at all. For over 10 years all techs have been paid for travel after 30 min. Now no more pay if you travel in your service area that they have picked for you with no input from the tech. We communicate with cell phones and text messages. If we are called while traveling we are expected to answer. Should our paid time start after we answer the phone? Or is it only the time you are on the phone?I have read the labor laws and as usual they seem kind of vague.
    Last edited by diveguy1; 12-28-2007, 07:56 AM.

  • #2
    If we are talking federal law only, then under the Portal-to-Portal Act, commute time to and from one's house is normally not time worked. If you are actually working while on the cell phone during this time, then it is work time while actually working only. As soon as you hang up, it is no longer work time. There is no 30 minute rule in federal law.

    Texas is not my state and I have no idea what rules (if any) they have on this subject.
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
    Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

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    • #3
      Technically the time you spend commuting to work does not have to be paid. If you are taking service calls during that time, it becomes iffier. How often does the phone ring during the commute? If this is rare and the calls short in nature, then it would still just be commute time. If you are constantly in communication via Nextel or similar, then it should be paid.
      I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

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      • #4
        usually just short calls. could be redirecting me to another location. but what i do is take service calls. I am a field service tech. some days when i leave the house i am going somewhere to do a scheduled maintenance and there is no service call fee charged for that. But if i am going somewhere on a service call where a customer called the day before the company charges a fee to the customer for me to travel there. but now i will receive no pay for the first call in the morning until i arrive at that particullar location. and also a normal commute where i live is only 24 min. and your telling me that if i have already travelled for 20 min. to get somewhere and then am redirected to another location that takes me another 40 min. to get to thats just too bad.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by diveguy1 View Post
          ... and your telling me that if i have already travelled for 20 min. to get somewhere and then am redirected to another location that takes me another 40 min. to get to thats just too bad.
          No, actually that is you telling you that, and you are maybe giving you bad advise. At the risk of stating the obvious, you just changed the facts in your original question. Perhaps once I answer this question, you will change them again.

          For federal rules only, you need to read FLSA regulations 29 CFR 785.33-785.41. For purposes of the current version of your question, the exceptions in 785.38 and 785.39 possibly may apply to you. The standard rule is the to/from home commute are not considered time worked and that the legal burden of proof is on you to show an exception.
          http://www.dol.gov/dol/allcfr/ESA/Ti...9CFR785.33.htm

          Texas is still not my state and I still have no idea what rules (if any) they have on this subject. You might need to talk directly to federal or state DOL on the specifics of your issue.
          "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
          Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

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          • #6
            I was just offering a different scenerio not changing the facts. i did leave out the part where i had not made it to the first location i was still in route, just told i needed to go somewere else. I have contacted the local texas labor office. Just thought i might receive some early ideas here. I really think that they do not have any hard set rules for service people that work out of a van that is actually there office. And with cell phones and all we are required to do some work and note receive any compensation since we are paid on the 1/4 hour and not by the minute

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            • #7
              Originally posted by diveguy1 View Post
              And with cell phones and all we are required to do some work and note receive any compensation since we are paid on the 1/4 hour and not by the minute
              This last point is rather complicated. While there is an exception for insubstantial or insignificant periods of time, this exception has limits. Ignoring one short phone call for purposes of hours worked is one thing. Ignoring many short phone calls for purposes of hours worked is something different. All employer policies are only legal to the extent that they follow the law.

              http://www.dol.gov/dol/allcfr/ESA/Ti...9CFR785.47.htm
              "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
              Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

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              • #8
                The way I see it they could redirect you back and forth for half a day before you reach any destination and you would be screwed. What does your HR say about it ? Sounds like where I work

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                • #9
                  It does not matter what HR says. The law is the law.

                  Is there any possibility that I can get you to actually read the federal regulations I cited? Probably not. I have already answer this version of your question and told you what options you have should you choose to pursue them. I am done playing what-ifs. Have a good day.
                  "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
                  Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

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                  • #10
                    Well sir, I did read the regulations and I have contacted the wage and hour board to try to get the proper answers to the many questions. The problem we have is there are many scenarios that we are put into on a daily basis that are hard to tell how the law would be applied. Such as standing by during the day or in the morning. We are free but not free because we have to be in uniform ready to go as soon as the phone rings or the text message is sent. and i have been told we should use that time to straighten our van get service manuals in order or study in a manual to stay up to date. But thank you for your input

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                    • #11
                      If you are not being paid for that stand by time while you are cleaning your vehicle and studying work manuals, you should be. If you are off and free to go about personal errands, grab a bite to eat, etc. and just have ot be able to respond to a page or call if one comes in, then you do not.

                      An employer constantly redirecting someone all over the area for half the day before they actually show up at a job site is quite a bit different than a once in a rare while call telling them there has been an emergency and they need to report to a different location a particular morning.
                      I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

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                      • #12
                        Ok here is the thing. My company works pretty much the same way. Wouldn't my home or garage be a staging area that I would have to get ready to start my day?

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by robertguero View Post
                          Ok here is the thing. My company works pretty much the same way. Wouldn't my home or garage be a staging area that I would have to get ready to start my day?
                          Poster added to an old thread - new thread has been started per cbg's request - see http://www.laborlawtalk.com/showthread.php?t=186987.
                          Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

                          Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

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