AGC of Washington endorsed last weeks release of an administrative policy by the Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) regarding commute time in company vehicles. For a copy of the policy click here.
L&Is new policy stems from the Washington State Supreme Courts Brinks decision of 2007. The Court ruled that a home security firm which allowed technicians to drive to and from their homes in company trucks was required to pay the employees for their drive time. According to the Court the employees were on duty at the employers premises or workplace while they were driving to and from their residences. As a result this time constituted hours worked under the Washington Minimum Wage Act.
The Brinks decision created confusion regarding the circumstances under which commute time in company vehicles is compensable. AGC sought clarification through legislation last year. That effort was defeated and AGC has since been working to secure a Department rule on the matter.
The policy is intended as a guide to interpretation and application of the court decision; it does not in and of itself constitute a Department rule.
The Departments policy is an important first step said Rick Slunaker AGCs Director of Government Affairs. Its valuable guidance for employers who want to keep providing employees with the perk of a company-owned vehicle.
AGC had urged L&I to provide more guidance to employers and will continue to work with L&I on the development of more formal rules and will consider a legislative solution in 2009.
L&I had originally intended for the policy to take effect Aug. 8. Labor groups sought and received a postponement. The policy took effect Sept. 2.
The policy describes that commute time is compensable if it is hours worked. It then lays out elements of the definition of hours worked as follows:
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 policy fleshes out the meaning of on duty and employers premises or prescribed work place.