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New L&I Policy on Brinks/Commute Time Takes Effect Aug. 8

The Washington State Supreme Courts Brinks decision – regarding whether or not commute time in company vehicles is compensable – is about to come to a resolution of sorts. The Department of Labor and Industries has released a draft policy intended as a guide in the interpretation and application of the relevant statutes regulations and policies and may not be applicable to all situations.

The draft policy which will take affect on Aug. 8 can be seen by clicking here. This new policy will serve as interim guidance for some time as L&I prepares formal rules to govern the matter.

The policy describes that commute time is compensable if it is hours worked. It then lays out elements of the definition of hours worked:

1. An employee is authorized or required by the employer
2. to be on duty
3. on the employers premises or at a prescribed workplace.

All three of those elements must be satisfied. The draft policy fleshes out the meaning of on duty and employers premises or prescribed work place.

AGC has been urging L&I to provide more guidance to employers and is serving on a business/labor group advising the department on Brinks. L&I is releasing a policy not a regulation but nevertheless it provides better – if not perfect – clarity to employers regarding commute time in company vehicles. Plus it will take affect almost immediately – Aug. 8 – without the prolonged comment period that a regulation must have.

Employers are encouraged to examine their individual company policies assuring that they provide clear statements regarding company vehicle use.

AGC members with questions or comments about the draft policy may email Christine Swanson in the Government Affairs Office or call her at 360-352-5000.

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