Motor Carrier Overtime Exemption


If you employ truck drivers you’ve probably heard of something called the “motor carrier exemption”.  If you don’t know exactly what that means though, you’ve come to the right place.  Here’s what you need to know.

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires that most employees be paid overtime after 40 hours in a 7 day workweek.  The motor carrier exemption is an exemption from that requirement.

In order to not pay overtime the following conditions must be met.

  • The employer must be a motor carrier or motor private carrier as defined in 49 U.S.C. Section 13102. 
  • The employee must be a driver, driver’s helper, loader, or mechanic, whose works affects the safety of a motor vehicle (that has a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of at least 10,001 pounds) that is used in transportation in interstate* or foreign commerce.  The employee must be crossing state/international lines, or continuing to transport goods intrastate that have been on an interstate journey and have not come to rest. In the case of loaders and mechanics the employee must be loading up or working on trucks that are going to be making interstate trips. 
  • The employee must not work as a driver, driver’s helper, loader, or mechanic on any vehicles that have a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of less than 10,001 pounds. In any week when an employee works on both types of vehicles (GVWR greater than 10,001 and less than 10,0001)  the employee must be paid overtime.  If an employer has both types of vehicles and wants to claim the exemption for certain employees it is recommended that they keep very precise records of the type of work done by each employee.  There are a few types of vehicles that weigh less than 10,001 pounds that do not affect the exemption.  These include 8 passenger vehicles driven for compensation, 15 passenger vehicles not for compensation, and anything used in transporting hazardous materials with DOT requirements.

*Courts have held that even if an individual driver has not taken an interstate trip the exemption will apply as long as the driver was part of a pool of drivers that could’ve been called upon to make such a trip in the previous four months.

Keep in mind that the exemption is from overtime only.  Accurate time records of hours worked each day and each week must be kept in order to satisfy the minimum wage and record keeping requirements of the FLSA.

If you are a motor carrier employer it would also be smart to check out the Labor Brain’s tip on employment relationship and the difference between employees and independent contractors.  Misclassification of truck drivers as independent contractors (1099s) is a hot topic across the country and could result in catastrophic losses for your company.

We hope you found this week’s tip helpful and informative. Please pass it along to anyone who employs drivers of large vehicles.  Follow us on facebook to get the next Tip of the Week on your newsfeed!


–      By Kalen Fraser

The Labor Brain Inc. is not a law firm and its employees do not practice law or provide legal services.  The information provided on our website,  in email correspondence with representatives of The Labor Brain, and at outreach events is for informational and educational purposes only.  The information provided is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney.