Today I bring you another guest blog. I hope you enjoy it. If you would like to write a blog to be published right here, just email it to me!
Twenty After Two: A Quick Analysis of Detention Pay
A common way carriers pay their drivers for detention, or time spent at a dock being loaded or unloaded, is through a set hourly rate. This rate varies among carriers. You may see companies pay $20/hr after your first 2 hours of waiting, some carriers pay at a higher rate, some pay an immediate hourly rate on your arrival, other carriers may not pay any detention at all.
When I was looking for a new company to drive for, paid detention time was a very important factor in selecting the appropriate company as I had previously been at one of those companies who paid nothing at all for detention which was very much abused. In my transition from working in a warehouse to the trucking industry a year ago, I knew all about hourly pay – what forklift drivers, material handlers, shipping and receiving clerks made. So, looking at detention pay with higher rates than that which I was used to had me jump into something I didn’t fully acknowledge. Let’s talk about the “after X hours” aspect of this and run some scenarios to show you the real numbers behind it.
Suppose your company pays you $20/hr after 2 hours and you sit at a dock for 3 hours getting loaded. You just made $20. That’s great, right? Not so much. That’s an average of only $6.67/hr for your time. Let me also say, that 2 hours typically doesn’t start until your set appointment time. So, let me ask, did you really show up exactly at your appointment time or do you give yourself extra time to show up at least a half an hour early to make sure you get parked and checked in? That’s an extra half hour of your time working. Now the company doesn’t have to pay you for the first two AND A HALF hours and just drove your wage down to $5.72/hr.
You might say, well it's better than not getting paid for 6 hours. Sure, it does pay, but 6 hours of time is only a rate of $13.33/hr. I can’t speak for everyone here, but more times than not, I’m not sitting at a dock for 6 hours. It’s typically 1-3 hours. Only on a few occasions have I been in the dock for 6+ hours. A shorter wait time means your hourly detention rate averages lower as well - that is, if you're paid a wage "after X hours."
I often hear from other drivers or companies, it’s part of the job. Or, you need to at least give the shippers that first hour, it takes time to load freight. But do I, as an employee, have to give them that hour, or two, or three? Or should my company understand that not every aspect of their business can be profitable and take that into consideration when dealing in the business of transportation? Isn’t ALL my time valuable regardless of these uncontrollable circumstances? Should a person's wage be contingent on another department's throughput, even when this other department is a shipper at a whole other company other than your own? Perhaps the web press operator shouldn’t get paid the first two hours while the clamp truck drivers unload my truck of roll stock. After all, he isn’t exactly being productive while the press is down waiting for a specific roll in the nose of my trailer.
When I worked in the warehouse, I once had to wait on a truck that was late to load something that needed to go out. I waited three hours after close time on Friday night. I was on time and a half at $23.46/hr. I was told to just sit tight and don’t operate the reach truck due to safety reasons of me being the only one there. I was paid to sit and wait and didn’t make any profit for the company in those hours. But they recognized the value of my time. It was worth it for them to pay me $70.38 for sitting because it was a small cost to make a customer happy on a back order we were late on producing.
My advice to new drivers is to research the company. Talk to the recruiters, yes, of course, but talk to other drivers especially, and not the ones that have company provided email accounts. Tell yourself all your time is valuable and don’t sell yourself short by not including the unpaid time that you work, or are on-duty, in your calculations. Twenty after two is not $20/hr. It is $6.67/hr at 3 hours, $10 at 4, $12 at 5, etc., because all your time matters whether the company believes so or not. Once you’ve recognized your own value, find a company that matches that, and success will ensue.
See you on the Road!
Hi! Welcome. I'm Mark and I've been a professional truck driver for over 33 years, the last 19 years at the same company. It is time that drivers got paid for every minute that we work and we are treated like the licensed professionals we are.