Breakdown pay is when you’re paid for downtime while your truck is being repaired because it broke down or had a significant mechanical issue while you were delivering a haul. Truck driving companies have varying policies on breakdown pay: some pay $100 per downtime day, while others have no breakdown pay policy and pay their truck drivers $0 even if they had to wait days away from home.
If you’ve broken down while doing a haul for your employer and they decided not to pay you, a truck driver attorney can help you get compensation and back pay.
Why You Might Be Entitled to Breakdown Pay Even if Your Employer Says “No”
A significant percentage of truck drivers believe that breakdown pay is determined only by company policy. If there is no company policy on breakdown pay, these truck drivers simply shake their heads and trudge on without arguing for their case. But, did you know that in 2013, United Towing & Transport Inc. decided to pay out more than $157,000 in back pay to its drivers?
So, if you’ve recently broken down while on a haul and your trucking company explicitly told you that they’re not paying for your downtime, there’s still hope. For example, if you’re hauling beverages, meat, produce, or bakery products, or laundry and your trucking company includes commission pay, then you could be considered an employee by legal standards even if they said you’re an independent contractor. Statutory employees are entitled to breakdown pay because you’re still on the clock.
Consult a truck driver attorney because he knows more about other situations where you might fit as an employee rather than an independent contractor. For example, if your trucking company has been paying you some minimum amount per hour, or has dictated how you should spend your breakdown downtime (e.g., tells you specific repair shops to visit, tells you to rearrange the load in the meantime, and etc.), these are all factors that a court would consider when determining whether, for that circumstance, you were an employee rather than an independent contractor.
Also, the type of benefits offered by your trucking company can also sway a court into ruling that you’re an employee versus an independent contractor. Almost all truck driving companies are significantly in need of truck drivers – thus, they try to offer competitive pay and benefits to attract potential candidates. By doing so, they’ve also opened themselves up to the possibility that they’re hiring employees rather than contracting with independent contractors. Courts routinely judge the legal relationship between an employer and an employee by whether or not the employer offers benefits that are routinely offered to employees.
Another factor that courts consider is whether or not what you’re doing is a key aspect of the employer’s business. For example, if your truck driving company’s entire business model revolves around hauling shipments to locations, and you’re doing a significant portion of those shipments, then you could be legally considered an employee.
A truck driver attorney would say that the more of these factors you have during the time of your breakdown and downtime, the more likely you’d be legally considered an employee, which would mean you’d be entitled to hourly pay during your breakdown downtime.
If you feel you deserve more breakdown pay, reach out to a truck driver attorney. It can’t hurt as long as he chooses to review your case for free (which is often the case for new clients). If he feels you have a solid claim, you may be entitled to back pay for all the downtime you spent during a breakdown while doing a haul for your trucking company.