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  • Travel time exemptions California

    This will be lengthy even though I'm trying to be brief.

    I have worked as a field tech for the same company for 4 years now and have always been paid for all travel from my home to the job site and back. All 8 mobile techs have historically been paid this way as well. I have never been told that we had to deduct our normal travel time to our base shop. During the first 3 years, I lived within 30 minutes of the shop and reported to and worked there regularly.

    I accepted the same position with higher pay in the Bay Area (read = HIGH cost of living). I verbally accepted the position and pay with the understanding from both my immediate supervisor and our Service Director that I would live 75 miles away (commute can be 1.5 to 2.5 hrs to the shop). I asked if this would be a problem and received no objection from either.

    With this new territory, I only report to the shop to pick up parts, drop off equipment and turn in paperwork. My job sites can be anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours away and changes from day to day.

    Another employee was hired for SoCal with the intention that his home would be his base of operations with parts shipped directly to him and paperwork submitted by fax.

    Last October, all field techs were told that we had to deduct our normal commute time to our first and from our last jobs. For me, this was a 4 hour loss and 3 hours for the other employee (he was now told that his home was never intended to be his base).

    So, my questions are...
    1) Because the company has historically paid for all travel, can they just change it without any consequence. I started with the company in 02/04 and transfered to my new area in 7/07

    2) Did I have a oral agreement/contract with my company to be paid for all travel time, since I was not told otherwise and had continued to be paid for all travel in this new territory from July 2007 to October 07. There has never been any written or verbal instructions or policy stating that we would deduct travel time.


    The other employee quit a couple of weeks ago and has now filed a complaint with the Labor Board on behalf of all other techs. Now our HR has sent out a letter called "Establishment of Commute Time". It basically says that I agree not to be paid for the 77 minutes of normal commute (per Google Maps). I don't plan on signing it until I have more facts.

    Any help will be greatly appreciated. Please let me know if more facts are neeeded.

  • #2
    I do not have a hard answer for you. Federal law (the Portal to Portal Act) says that commuting is not hours worked, and state law mostly follows this. I have never found hard guidance on how federal DOL would treat this particular situation.

    I took a quick look at what notes I have on this general subject as far as CA-DLSE is concered. The following opinion letter is as close as I have, and it might not be close enough.
    http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/opinions/2003-04-22.pdf

    Past that, you need to have a lawyer read the actual document before you sign it.
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
    Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

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    • #3
      more info

      I forgot to add that I do drive a company truck at all times. I take it home each night and carry my own tools plus company tools and parts. Sometimes I have to transport a customers piece of equipment which I may bring home on the truck. I am also required to call in to our supervisors voice mail to confirm start and end times for each job as well as call each customer to confirm appointments. For example, If I leave my home at 5 am and have a 6:30 appointment, I'm not paid until 6:30 even though I am performing "work" at 5 am by making those calls. I am also transporting company assets most of the time.

      Hope this adds a little more clarity.

      Comment


      • #4
        California labor law attorney

        Originally posted by mobilemech View Post
        This will be lengthy even though I'm trying to be brief.

        I have worked as a field tech for the same company for 4 years now and have always been paid for all travel from my home to the job site and back. All 8 mobile techs have historically been paid this way as well. I have never been told that we had to deduct our normal travel time to our base shop. During the first 3 years, I lived within 30 minutes of the shop and reported to and worked there regularly.

        I accepted the same position with higher pay in the Bay Area (read = HIGH cost of living). I verbally accepted the position and pay with the understanding from both my immediate supervisor and our Service Director that I would live 75 miles away (commute can be 1.5 to 2.5 hrs to the shop). I asked if this would be a problem and received no objection from either.

        With this new territory, I only report to the shop to pick up parts, drop off equipment and turn in paperwork. My job sites can be anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours away and changes from day to day.

        Another employee was hired for SoCal with the intention that his home would be his base of operations with parts shipped directly to him and paperwork submitted by fax.

        Last October, all field techs were told that we had to deduct our normal commute time to our first and from our last jobs. For me, this was a 4 hour loss and 3 hours for the other employee (he was now told that his home was never intended to be his base).

        So, my questions are...
        1) Because the company has historically paid for all travel, can they just change it without any consequence. I started with the company in 02/04 and transfered to my new area in 7/07

        2) Did I have a oral agreement/contract with my company to be paid for all travel time, since I was not told otherwise and had continued to be paid for all travel in this new territory from July 2007 to October 07. There has never been any written or verbal instructions or policy stating that we would deduct travel time.


        The other employee quit a couple of weeks ago and has now filed a complaint with the Labor Board on behalf of all other techs. Now our HR has sent out a letter called "Establishment of Commute Time". It basically says that I agree not to be paid for the 77 minutes of normal commute (per Google Maps). I don't plan on signing it until I have more facts.

        Any help will be greatly appreciated. Please let me know if more facts are neeeded.
        look up California labor code 2802. Employees are entitled to reimbursement of expenditures incurred related to the discharge of their duties.
        Walter

        www.California-Labor-Law-Attorney.com
        "Wage and Hour Class Action Attorneys"

        Disclaimer: The above correspondence does not constitute legal advice nor establish an attorney-client relationship. You should seek the advice of independent legal counsel before relying upon, acting upon or not acting upon any information contained in this correspondence.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by CaLaborLawAttorney View Post
          look up California labor code 2802. Employees are entitled to reimbursement of expenditures incurred related to the discharge of their duties.
          I'm sorry, but I don't see how this code corresponds to travel time. The question is whether the employer must continue to pay for all travel if they had already established it as a regular practice.

          Comment


          • #6
            California overtime lawyer

            travel time other than commute is typically compensable depending on certain other factors..whether an employer stops or starts is less relevant than if they are required to do so in the first place.
            Walter

            www.California-Labor-Law-Attorney.com
            "Wage and Hour Class Action Attorneys"

            Disclaimer: The above correspondence does not constitute legal advice nor establish an attorney-client relationship. You should seek the advice of independent legal counsel before relying upon, acting upon or not acting upon any information contained in this correspondence.

            Comment

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