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hours worked, portal-portal, mileage

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  • hours worked, portal-portal, mileage

    My son works for a small telecommunications company in Texas. He is paid an hourly rate. He drives his personal auto to the shop and meets up with the rest of the crew, picks up supplies & the owner tells them their assignments for the day. The crew gets in a company truck & drives from site to site. At the end of the day, they go back to the shop & get their personal autos.
    My question is when does the clock start/stop ticking for hours worked. Should he be paid for ride time from the shop to the job site? and from job site to job site? and from last job site to shop at the end of the day?
    I'm thinking, yes, he should be paid. but I was reading something in one of the other postings that made me think that they could be paid at a lower rate while riding than when they are doing their usual job. Is that so?
    Also, the company has a practice where instead of paying a hourly rate they pay a mileage rate. They were doing this only on trips that were over 100 miles. Now they say they are going to pay this way for the trip to the site but not pay mileage or hourly for the trip from last site back to the shop. They are paying at a rate of .20 mile.
    That doesn't sound legal.
    Also, the mileage things makes no sense to me. I thought mileage was only for the use of someone's personal car for work related drive. My son said that every company in that type of field pays that way but not at .20 & he thought it might be a combination of miles & hourly rate.
    Can they substitiute a wage figured on miles rather than hourly rate?
    Finally, even if they can pay at a different rate for drive time, don't they have to count the drive time towards the 40 total hours worked before overtime kicks in?
    Thank you for your advice.

  • #2
    Travel Time

    It sounds like he is doing some "work" from the point he leaves the shop. The reason is that he gets his tools and then rides in the truck with crew members. this is different than some of the other posts, such as the one in which a person gets a ride on the bus from the parking lot to the job site. In that case, she wasn't picking up tools as she got on the bus and chances are she wasn't doing work. My belief is that your son and his coworkers are probably discussing the work to be completed (among other topics that may not be related to work). I believe that the Department of Labor would agree with my impressions and my belief that they should be paid on the way from the last job site back to the shop. They had to go back to turn in the tools, turn in the truck, etc. The only thing that would change my opinion is if your son and his coworkers are given a lot of leeway/flexibility on their drive. In other words, if they are able to stop for snacks, shop, whatever.

    On the issue of using mileage as a method of calculating pay, it is legal AS LONG AS the net result is that they are making at least minimum wage each hour.

    Finally, they can be paid a different rate when driving than when they are working at the site, again as long as they are making minimum wage.

    Let me know if you have any other questions.
    Lillian Connell

    Forum Moderator


    • #3
      Thank you so much for the quick reply.
      Your assumption is correct in that the crew members discuess amoung other things (while riding/driving) work related topics to & from the job sites. (equipment & tools needed, what crew is being assigned to a job, what process has been done & what's left to be done).
      However, they are also allowed to stop at convenient stores for drinks and/or snacks. Most of the time, they do not take an official lunch break & they eat while riding or during down time (waiting on equipment or someone). They have 2 1/2 hours deducted for lunch from total hours worked per week whether they take it or not. Does the practice of stopping for snacks jeopardize being able to count the drive as work? They are not allowed to do any personal errands during the drive.
      Using milage as a way to calculate pay makes sense now. I understand. There are times when what they get paid would fall below minimum wage like during heavy traffic, breakdowns, or having to stop to buy supplies.

      Thanks again for your advice. It is very helpful. My son is 21 & has been at this job for 1 1/2 years. The owners seem to mostly try to treat the employees right especially when business is good but when money gets tight, they change the rules of how they pay & it gets confusing to all of them. My son works with some guys that have worked with the company a long time & usually don't question what's going on but now are looking to my son to figure things out & speak for them.
      They are scheduled to have a meeting with the owner soon to discuess all this and your advice will help.
      They owners are actually former neighbors of ours. The husband runs the field stuff & the wife & daughter run the office including the timesheets. They have spoken highly of my sons' performance so I feel they like him but the male gets a little defensive when the crew questions how his wife & daughter did the time. There are times when they (owners) change the timesheets & submit to the payroll service. They don't have the employee sign off on the changes & sometimes the changes absolutely do not make sense.
      So everyone gets suspicious of motives and what they can legally do or not do.
      sorry so lengthy. more than you needed to know to understand the issue...



      • #4
        Stopping for Snacks

        Under federal law, all time must be paid if the time off is less than 20 minutes. So, if they stop for breaks for less than 20 minutes, it should still be paid time.

        I understand the situation you describe. Your son will need to decide if he feels that the additional pay that he is owed is worth the disruption. Yes, there is a portion of the law that prevents retaliation. However, as you may guess, while there won't be retaliation, there may be a strain in the relationship.

        Let me know if you have any other questions.
        Lillian Connell

        Forum Moderator