Navigating Layover Pay in the Trucking Industry

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A crucial part of being a successful truck driver is making sure you are getting paid for as much of your time on the road as possible. But what if your truck has a mechanical issue that takes several days to resolve, or you're forced to wait at a truck stop for a couple of days while dispatch tries to find your next load? These situations and others do arise and when they do, depending on your company's policy, you may be entitled to receive trucking layover pay. 

Layover pay is a blanket term for situations like the ones mentioned above. However, trucking is a diverse industry with thousands of companies –  each with its policies, procedures, and definitions of layover pay. Some companies adopt a structure where they pay a flat layover rate of $125 per day. Other companies use their own formulas to calculate layover pay that sometimes turns into a complex form of calculus. 

Therefore, it is essential for you, the driver, to thoroughly understand or establish your company's layover policy and pay structure to ensure that you are getting the most money for your time. 

What Exactly is Layover in Trucking?

A trucking layover refers to when a truck driver stops driving and must wait for a certain amount of time before continuing their trip. This scenario may occur for various reasons, such as reaching the maximum number of hours a driver is legally allowed to drive in a day or waiting for a load to be available. Drivers are typically not paid during layovers, but some companies may reimburse drivers for certain expenses incurred during the waiting period, such as lodging and meals. Due to increased recruitment competition, many companies are transitioning to some form of layover payout to compensate drivers for periods of involuntary downtime. 

When looking for a company to drive for or  determining your own company’s pay structure, it's essential to understand the types of layovers you may encounter and how you can be compensated.

Mandatory Layovers

A mandatory layover is when the law or a company policy forces a trucker to stop driving for a set amount of time before continuing their trip. Mandatory layovers aim to ensure that the driver is well-rested and not fatigued to prevent safety hazards on the road. 

For example, federal hours of service regulations for truck drivers mandate that a driver must take a thirty-minute break after driving for eight hours and a 34-hour break after driving for 70 hours for seven consecutive days. Additionally, some companies may have policies that require drivers to take mandatory layovers after a certain number of hours on the road or at specific locations. 

Voluntary Layover

Voluntary layovers are at the driver's discretion. These include vacations, hometime, extended hometime, and other factors the driver finds crucial. Unless otherwise stated in a company's policy, drivers are typically not compensated for taking voluntary layovers. 

Forced Layover

A forced layover occurs when a driver encounters unsafe weather conditions such as iced-over roads and high winds or their equipment suffers a mechanical failure. 

Detention Layover

A detention layover is an extension of standard detention pay and refers to a situation where a driver has to wait for an extended period, usually over four hours, for loading or unloading to be completed. However, extracting payment for detention layovers from the parties responsible for causing the delay, such as shippers or receivers, can be challenging for trucking companies. This is because many contracts between trucking companies and these parties do not include provisions for detention pay or hold the responsible party accountable for delays. As a result, drivers are less likely to receive compensation for detention layovers, unless their company has a policy to compensate the driver regardless of whether or not the shipper or receiver compensates the company. This situation can lead to financial losses for trucking companies and negatively impact driver morale and retention.

The type of layover applied in a given situation may vary depending on a company's policies and the driver's contracts. Therefore, clearly establishing, reviewing and understanding layover policies and contracts is always recommended. Furthermore, layovers are disruptive to a driver's extended work schedule andcan hurt a company's revenue, so it is essential to vet customers to ensure they are not causing lengthy layovers. It is also important to practice a robust vehicle maintenance program to prevent any unwanted layovers.

How Are Layover Fees Calculated?

There is no standard layover fee in the trucking industry. Trucking companies use various calculations and policies that determine if and when they compensate their drivers for layovers. Layover pay can vary from $0 to $200 , on average, depending on a given company's policy, as the costs ultimately come out of its pocket. 

Layover Pay vs. Detention Pay

The critical differences between layover pay and detention pay are:

  • Time factor. Detention pay covers a shorter period, typically 8 hours or less. Layover pay is often reserved for periods of greater than 8 hours.
  • Detention pay is often worked into the load contract, while layover pay is not. Therefore a driver is far more likely to receive detention pay and less likely to receive layover pay from a customer. 

If you are an owner-operator, it is crucial to familiarize yourself with the differences in layover and detention pay. Also take a look at your prospective customers' transportation needs to understand how you can negotiate both layover and detention pay  successfully. 

Wrap Up

Truck drivers and owner-operators should be compensated as much  as possible for the work they do in order  to keep this country moving. Layover pay is an essential part of that payment and should be negotiated. As a driver, you have rights and leverage because you are in high demand. If a company does not offer a layover pay policy that meets your needs, be sure to negotiate because there are plenty of other companies that do. If you are an owner operator, be sure to establish layover policies for your own operations. 

If you're ready to transition from company driver to owner-operator, CloudTrucks is here to help you. We work hard to ensure our drivers have successful, happy, and fulfilling careers by giving them control of their schedules. In addition, we provide back-end office support and work hard to capture as much compensation as possible for you, the driver.

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