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Travel time for Field Service Engineer

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  • Travel time for Field Service Engineer

    I am a field service engineer. I work out of my house in Texas and am required to travel to customer's sites all over the U.S. and overseas. I have to take about 50 lbs. of tools and parts with me when I travel. My question is, am I entitled to overtime for time spent traveling?

    My company is located in California and I live in Texas.

    Thanks,

    Terry

  • #2
    As a field service engineer (I'm not sure exactly what that is), are you an exempt or a nonexempt employee? Do you get paid overtime? What exactly are your duties?
    I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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    • #3
      Field Service Engineers

      Nose,

      Along the same lines as Patty's questions, your entitlement to overtime is going to depend in large part on whether or not you are exempt according to the federal wage and hour law known as the Fair Labor Standards Act.

      I spent several years working with field service engineers (sometimes called CEs, or customer engineers) and they were all exempt. They were professionals, although not necessarily RPE, and were not legally entitled to overtime pay. Most of them got comp time for extra time spent in traveling, if the travel couldn't be done on normal work days (or nights). That was done at the discretion of the company, though, and not required.

      If you're salaried, visiting customer sites world-wide, and resolving problems on behalf of the company, you're likely exempt, and you have to get your money up front, in the salary or bonus negotiation.

      If you're hourly, or non-exempt, it's another story. In that case, you get into a whole complicated scenario involving normal working hours, travel hours, and whether you're driving, flying, or just hanging out.

      Patty is the payroll expert, and knows the rules well.

      Comment


      • #4
        I was an FSE at one time. It is among the most overused engineering titles as I have yet to meet one that actually meets the salaried employee standard. Very common in the semiconductor industry the FSE is merely a repairman (or technician). My former employer was required by the Labor Relations Board to pay all FSE's an hourly wage because of this fact.

        I would check out your local labor relations board to find out if you meet the standard for an exempt employee

        Here is a good general link: http://www.paychex.com/library/exempt.pdf

        In my current engineering position, I meet most of the tests for a non-exempt or hourly position (even with an MBA and engineering degree) because my job is over 50% technical (hand ons) and not administrative or professional design. However, the caviet is the "highly paid employee". If you make over $100K a year in base salary, you can automatically be classified as exempt no matter what portion of your job is technical or engineering.

        I am not an expert, but I can tell you how many Silicon Valley companies handle these things:

        1. Some will pay you full hourly pay for travel time.
        2. Some will have a two-tiered salary system which pays you minimum wage (plus appropriate overtime) when travelling and your regular hourly wage when working.
        Last edited by semimba; 02-23-2006, 11:05 AM.

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        • #5
          WOW! How quickly you responded. It's really great to know that there are people who care about other people and doing what is right.- Sorry, I get a bit mushy.

          I am classified as salaried, non-exempt. I work as a full time employee, out of my house. I am required to travel to customers sites to work on analyzers that my company has sold them. These analyzers are: Mass Spectrometers, Near Infrared Analyzers, Infra Red Spectrometers and Gas Chromatographs. Mostly located in Steel Mills, Refineries, Chemical Plants and Pharmacutical Plants.

          I have to travel from my house, carrying about 50 lbs. of tools and parts to th customer's site. I live in South Texas and these sites are all over the U. S. and many countries overseas.

          Reading the laws, I'm confused by my interrpretation of them. Please, I would just like to know what the law is. Mostly for my own selfish reason of knowing if I'm being treated fairly or not.

          Thanks, y'all are great!

          Terry

          Comment


          • #6
            Are you paid using the fluctuating workweek method? See here:
            http://www.dol.gov/dol/allcfr/ESA/Ti...CFR778.114.htm

            Then, we can talk about travel time.

            Gosh, thanks, Texas709
            I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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            • #7
              I am paid for 40 hours every week. Anything over 40 hours is considered overtime.

              Thanks,

              Terry

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              • #8
                When you are paid overtime, is it at 1.5 times your stated hourly rate? Or does the rate fluctuate based on how many hours you have worked that particular week?
                I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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                • #9
                  I am paid at 1.5 times my regular hourly rate.

                  Thanks, again for your help. This is great!

                  Terry

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Then you are not being paid under the fluctuating workweek method.

                    Now here's some information about travel time for nonexempt employees:

                    http://www.dol.gov/dol/allcfr/ESA/Ti...9CFR785.39.htm
                    I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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                    • #11
                      I'm sorry that I didn't respond earlier. I was traveling and away from my computer with the link to this site. Thanks for your reply. I was already familiar with 29 CFR 785.39. My concern is the fact that I have to take tools and equipment with me. I was thinking that because I have to haul company tools and equipment that I would be covered by another part of the CFR.

                      Does 29 CFR 785.39 mean that I should be paid for Saturdays and Sundays when I have to stay over the weekend, even if I'm not working? My boss makes me stay over the weekend sometimes and I basically "lose" the weekend, sitting in a hotel room. It seems that 29 CFR 785.39 could be interpreted either way.

                      Thanks again.

                      Terry

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        This is the part of the code that makes me think I may be eligible for pay while traveling. Travel is an integral part of my job.

                        http://www.dol.gov/dol/allcfr/ESA/Ti...9CFR785.38.htm

                        Terry

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Hauling around equipment doesn't come into play. The subsection you referenced has to do with local travel. The one I referenced has to do with overnight travel. Those are your answers.
                          I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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                          • #14
                            Im going to the Labor Hearing on the same issue

                            My position is that to carry a pistol, handcuffs and uniforms from post to post and using the vehicle for shelter and an aid to get to the crapper - the company is in effect using my vehicle as its own.

                            I go Wednesday - wish me luck!!!
                            As Long As Their Is A Moon In The Sky, A Pebble Will Never Influence The Tides.

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