California Employment Law Blog

Is Offering a Free Ride "Control"?

Posted by Timothy B. Del Castillo | Nov 20, 2018 | 0 Comments

road with traffic

While most employees are commuters and get to and from their usual work location on their own dime, in their own vehicle, some employees are offered employer-provided transportation.  In general, non-exempt employees are paid to perform work at an hourly rate, for every minute spent under the "control" of the employer.  Although travel to and from the normal place of work is typically not compensable time, the California Court of Appeal in Hernandez v. Pacific Bell Telephone Company addressed the issue of whether commute time is compensable when it is spent in a company owned-vehicle, which is also transporting employer supplies, and in which the employer imposes rules about what employees can do during the commute.

 In this case, employees were given the option to use an employee-provided vehicle to travel to and from work sites at the beginning and the end of each workday.  Plaintiffs argued that the time was compensable because technicians could "use the company vehicle only for company business and only authorized persons can ride in or drive the vehicle.  Technicians must drive directly between home and the worksite; they are not permitted to stop along the way to run errands or drop off or pick up children from school or talk on a cell phone while driving."  However, although the employees were required to follow certain rules if they wanted to use the company-owned vehicles to commute, the California appellate court still found that the employer was not required to pay the employees for this time because the program was entirely optional.

Important to the outcome of the case, the employees still had the option of using their own vehicles to get to and from the workplace at the beginning and end of the day.  Additionally, employees' use of the vehicle did not require any additional work or effort from the employee than they would have had to perform using an alternate method of transportation.

Employers considering not compensating employees for travel time in company vehicles may now have a path to do so in a compliant manner.  Of course, each situation is unique and employers should consult with their employment counsel before making any changes in compensation practices.  

About the Author

Timothy B. Del Castillo

Tim practices employment law in California and represents both employees and employers in federal and state courts, administrative hearings, arbitrations, mediations, and in direct negotiations. Tim also offers advice and counsel and training to businesses to help them achieve compliance with California employment laws.

Comments

There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

QUALITY REPRESENTATION FROM A TRUSTED ADVISOR.

Castle Law’s goal is to become your trusted advisor and to provide real value for all of your employment law needs. To become our client’s trusted advisors, we aim to provide quality representation and sound advice time and again.

FREE CONSULTATION.

There is no charge for the initial phone consultation. Attorney Tim Del Castillo will personally speak with you about your case and provide you with an honest analysis. Fill out the contact form on the website with detailed information about your circumstances and we will schedule a telephone appointment.

Copyright © 2018 Tim Del Castillo

Attorney Timothy B. Del Castillo is responsible for the content on this website, which may contain an advertisement. The information on this website does not constitute an attorney-client relationship and no attorney-client relationship is formed until conflicts have been cleared and both parties have signed a written fee agreement. Please do not send any confidential information through the website. The materials and information on this website are for informational purposes only and should not be relied on as legal advice. PRIOR RESULTS DO NOT GUARANTEE FUTURE OUTCOMES. Any testimonials or endorsements do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter.

Menu