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Overtime Pay and The Motor Carrier Exemption

Sept. 16, 2021

The Fair Labor Standards Act mandates that all employers pay overtime to those employees who work more than 40 hours per week. However, there are many types of employees that are exempt from this requirement, including executives and administrators. One lesser-known exemption is the one covering some employees in the transportation industry.

Motor Carrier Exemption

Broadly speaking, the Motor Carrier Exemption applies to employees whose job is to transport people or things across state lines. However, it does not apply to all employees in all situations. At the outset, the employer must be one that provides vehicle transportation for compensation – and that transportation must be interstate. If a driver only works within the state, they are not exempt and must be paid overtime. However, if they only travel out of state some of the time, they may be exempt. Not every trip has to be interstate to qualify.

The exemption applies to more than drivers, however. Loaders and helpers can also qualify for the Motor Carrier Exemption, depending on the nature of their work. Specifically, the exemption targets those employees whose duties affect the safety of the motor vehicle while it is engaged in interstate commerce. If a loader or helper is responsible for ensuring the vehicle’s payload is secured safely, for example, they may fall within the exemption.

Mechanics can also qualify for the Motor Carrier Exemption, since they are responsible for repairing and maintaining the vehicle so that it can be safely operated. But not all work done with respect to the vehicle exempts an employee from overtime. If a mechanic’s only tasks are checking tire pressures and filling the gas or topping off the oil, this would likely be insufficient to implicate the exemption. Other employees, such as dispatchers or forklift drivers, likely also have duties too indirect to affect the safety of the vehicle and would not be exempt.