Truck drivers occupy a unique sphere in the working world. Many drivers are owner-operators whose companies contract to transport freight. These drivers are independent contractors who pay for their vehicle maintenance, motor carrier insurance, and other expenses out of their own earnings. Other drivers are employees, which means their expenses are covered by their companies. It is not uncommon for employee drivers to be misclassified as independent contractors, which can impact their access to certain employment benefits like paid sick time.
In some states, employers are required by law to provide workers with paid sick leave. New Jersey is not one of them. Employers may provide it for their employees, which can include drivers. Truck drivers who work as independent contractors must manage their own sick time and determine for themselves when they are too sick to work and how to budget for it.
What Happens when a Truck Driver Gets Sick on the Road?
When a truck driver gets sick on the road, he or she should stop driving and accurately assess the situation. If he or she needs emergency medical attention, the driver should get to the nearest emergency room and receive appropriate care as soon as possible. If the situation is not dire, the driver should contact his or her dispatcher and tell them about the illness. Another driver can be sent to carry the sick driver’s freight to its destination while the sick driver takes time off to recover. Transportation can be a grueling industry, which is why there are laws in place limiting how much time a driver can spend driving each day. Drivers should also take care not to work while sick and not to overwork themselves while recovering from an illness.
Sick Time Differences for Different Driver Classifications
When a truck driver is an employee of his or her company, whether he or she has paid sick time depends on the employer’s sick time policy. Whether the driver is a salaried employee or works hourly does not impact his or her right to sick time if it is one of the benefits the employer offers. For serious illnesses, employees are permitted to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off and return to their previous position once they recover under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA). They may also use this time to care for a sick loved one.
Independent contractors do not have the right to take time off under FMLA, but they are also not bound to specific work requirements like employees.
Work with a Premier New Jersey Truck Driver Employment Attorney
As an employed individual, it is important that you always know your rights. If your rights are violated or you need to assert them in the workplace, work with an experienced employment lawyer who can act as your advocate. To learn more about these rights and to get started with a member of our team, contact The Sattiraju & Tharney, LLP today to set up your initial consultation with us. We are one of New Jersey and New York’s premier employment law firms.