Truckers Issues: Do I Have a Right to Paid Meals and Rest Breaks?

truck driverUnfortunately, the Fair Labor Standards Act or FLSA, the federal hour and wage law, doesn’t require that employers provide rest or meal breaks to employees while they’re on the job. Because of this, some states have enacted laws that require employers to enact laws that require employers to offer these benefits. It’s crucial to note though that this only applies to employees.

For example, if you’re a truck driver, you could only benefit from meals and rest breaks if you’re an employee and not an independent contractor, explains one of the top trucking lawyers in Washington. If you’re an employee, then all’s well and good.

General Rest and Meal Break Laws

In general, employees could enjoy 30-minute meal breaks after five to six hours of work, without pay. If you need to work while on a meal break, then you should be paid for working during your meal break. Likewise, employees could take paid, 10-minute rest breaks after every four hours of work. However, laws on rest and meal breaks differ widely from state to state.

For example, in Washington, you could take a paid rest break for 10 minutes for every 4-hour work period, that you should ideally take close to the midpoint of your 4-hour work period. Likewise, you can’t be required by your employer to continue working for more than three hours if you haven’t had your rest break. Do note though that scheduled breaks don’t apply if you could take intermittent breaks that are equivalent to the duration of scheduled breaks throughout your work period.

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The state likewise enables you to take a meal break for 30 minutes if your work period exceeds five hours, provided that you take your meal break no more than five hours or less than two hours from starting your workday. Your meal break should also be paid if you’re on duty or if your employer requires you to stay onsite for his or her benefit. Also, if you exceed your standard workday for three hours or longer, you’re entitled to an extra 30-minute meal break, before or following your overtime.

Enforcing Your Rights

If you’re a truck driver and are uncertain if you’re entitled to meal and rest breaks, perhaps to misclassification of your work status, employee vs independent contractor, it would be in your best interest to speak with an experienced attorney. This is crucial since truck drivers usually work long hours and require ample rest and sustenance to work well and avoid accidents.