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U.S. Department of Labor Employment Standards Administration Wage and Hour Division

(November 2007)

Fact Sheet #19: The Motor Carrier Exemption under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

Section 13(b)(1) of the FLSA provides an overtime exemption for employees who are within the authority of the Secretary of Transportation to establish qualifications and maximum hours of service pursuant to section 204 of The Motor Carrier Act of 1935.

The Secretary of Transportation’s authority, and thus the section 13(b)(1) overtime exemption, applies to employees who are:

    • 1.

      Employed by a motor carrier or motor private carrier (see Employer below); and

    • 2.

      Drivers, helpers, loaders, or mechanics whose duties affect the safety of operation of commercial motor vehicles in transportation on public highways in interstate or foreign commerce (see Employee Duties below); and

    • 3.

      Performing duties on commercial motor vehicles (see Commercial Vehicles below).

  • 1.


    • Motor Carriers are persons providing commercial motor vehicle transportation for compensation;

    • Motor Private Carriers are persons other than motor carriers transporting property by commercial motor vehicle if the person is the owner, lessee, or bailee of the property being transported, and the property is being transported for sale, lease, rent, or bailment, or to further a commercial enterprise.

  • 2.

    Employee Duties

  • The ordinary duties of the employee’s job must include the performance, either regularly or from time to time, of safety-affecting activities on a type of commercial motor vehicle listed below in transportation on public highways in interstate or foreign commerce. Employees are exempt in all workweeks when performing in a job that generally includes such duties in all workweeks, regardless of the proportion of “safety affecting activities” performed in a particular workweek. On the other hand, where the continuing duties of the employee’s job have no substantial direct effect on such “safety of operation,” or where such safety affecting activities are so trivial, casual, and insignificant as to be de minimis, the exemption will not apply in any workweek (so long as there is no change in the duties).

  • Transportation involved in the employee’s duties must be in interstate commerce (across State or international lines) or connect with an intrastate terminal (rail, air, water, or land) to continue an interstate journey of goods that have not come to rest at a final destination.

  • Safety affecting employees who have not made an actual interstate trip may still be exempt if:

    • a)

      The employer is shown to have an involvement in interstate commerce; and

    • b)

      The employee could, in the regular course of employment, reasonably have been expected to make an interstate journey or could have worked on the motor vehicle in such a way as to be safety affecting.

Satisfactory evidence of the above could take the form of statements from the employees, or documentation from the employer, such as employee agreements.

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