Washington, DC – The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration FMCSA) released their determination regarding California’s Meal and Rest Break (MRB) as it pertains to passenger carrier drivers. FMCSA, in its preemption decision, concluded that, “…California may no longer enforce the MRB rules with respect to drivers of passenger-carrying CMVs subject to FMCSA’s HOS (hours of service) rules.”
The agency also considered the cumulative effect on interstate commerce of similar laws and regulations in other States. Currently 20 other states have varying applicable break rules.
“The Agency seemed to be placing other states on notice to avoid unreasonable burdens on interstate commerce,” said Stacy Tetschner, president and CEO of UMA. “The Agency determined that the diversity of State regulation of meal and rest breaks for CMV drivers has resulted in a patchwork of requirements that they found to be an unreasonable burden on interstate commerce.”
Tetschner said, “UMA appreciates the exhaustive examination of the compatibility of state rules exhibited in the determination.”
California’s Meal and Rest Break law requires drivers be provided a 30-minute uninterrupted, duty-free meal break when working more than 5 hours in a workday. Additionally, drivers must be provided a 10-minute uninterrupted, duty-free rest break for every 4 hours worked.
Employers that violate the rule are required to compensate an employee one extra hour of regular pay for each day on which a meal break violation occurred, and another extra hour of regular pay for each day on which a rest break violation occurred.
Petition for Preemption
A petition submitted by the American Bus Association and supported in comments by the United Motorcoach Association asked the FMCSA to preempt the California rule.
In the decision, FMCSA states: “…FMCSA acknowledges that the State of California has a legitimate interest in promoting driver and public safety,” further stating, “…the Agency has determined that the MRB (meal and break) rule offers no safety benefit beyond the Federal regulation governing drive-time limits, fatigue, and coercion. The FMCSA also determines that enforcing the MRB rules results in increased operational burdens and costs. In addition, the Agency finds that requiring motor carriers to comply with the Federal HOS rules and also identify and adjust their operations in response to the many varying State requirements is an unreasonable burden on interstate commerce.
The preemption decision concludes, “…California may no longer enforce the MRB rules with respect to drivers of passenger-carrying CMVs subject to FMCSA’s HOS (hours of service) rules.”
In recent years, states and political subdivisions have increasingly been passing laws and regulations creating a panoply of regulatory and compliance burdens; therefore, denying the industry of safe uniform regulations.
The United Motorcoach Association applauds this decision with the hope that States will return to requiring motor carriers to comply solely with the uniform Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.