New DOL Opinion Letter on Compensability of Sleep Time for Truck Drivers

The U.S. Department of Labor issued an opinion letter, FLSA2019-10, that provides new guidance on the compensability of time that a driver spends in a truck’s sleeper berth while otherwise relieved from duty. In FLSA2019-10, DOL’s Wage and Hour Division (“WHD”) follows a straightforward reading of the plain language of the applicable regulation, concluding that the time during which drivers are relieved of all duties and permitted to sleep in a sleeper berth is presumptively non-working time that is not compensable.

However, where a driver who retires to a sleeping berth is unable to use the time effectively for his or her own purposes, time spent in the sleeper berth will be compensable. For example, a driver who is required to remain on-call or do paperwork in the sleeping berth may be unable to effectively sleep or engage in personal activities; in such cases, the time is compensable for hours worked.

This new opinion letter effectively repeals WHD’s prior opinion letters on this issue. Previously, WHD concluded that while sleeping time may be excluded from hours worked where “adequate facilities” were furnished, only up to 8 hours of sleeping time could be excluded on a trip that is 24 hours or longer, and no sleeping time may be excluded for trips under 24 hours.

Please contact David Fortney (dfortney@fortneyscott.com), or the FortneyScott attorney with whom you work, for additional information.