California Court Holds Commute Between Home and Client Site is Not Compensable Time Under Voluntary Company Vehicle Take-Home Program
By Sonya Goodwin & C. Randolph Sullivan on December 13, 2018
In Hernandez v. Pacific Bell Co., a California court held that employees who drive between their homes and a client worksite (in this case, a customer’s residence) using a company vehicle under the company’s voluntary vehicle take-home program need not be compensated for the commute time.
Pacific Bell premises technicians install and repair internet services at customer’s homes. Prior to 2009, the technicians were required to pick up a company-owned vehicle at a Pacific Bell garage, report to customers’ homes and then return the vehicle back to the garage at the end of the day. The technicians worked an eight-hour shift and were paid from the time they arrived at the Pacific Bell garage until they returned the vehicle. In 2009, the company initiated its Home Dispatch Program (HDP), which allowed the technicians to take the vehicles and tools and equipment home each night and go straight to the customer’s residence at the start of each shift. The HDP program was completely voluntary, and the employees who chose to participate were required to go to the garage once a week to pick up the necessary tools and equipment. Under the HDP, the technicians were paid from the time they arrived at the first customer’s residence until they left the last customer’s residence. In other words, they were not paid to travel between their home and the customer’s residence at the start of the workday. They were, however, paid to load their company vehicles with the equipment and tools on their weekly garage visit.
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