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FMCSA Grants Petition To Prevent Washington State From Enforcing Meal and Rest Break Rules

As of November 17, 2020, the FMCSA rules that Washington state’s Meal and Rest Break (MRB) rules are preempted pursuant to 49 U.S.C. § 31141 as applied to passenger-carrying commercial motor vehicle drivers subject to FMCSA's hours of service regulations. This was granted after a petition was filed last year by the Washington Trucking Association (WTA) claiming that Washington’s rules were similar to those of California’s, which the FMCSA determined were preempted under federal HOS rules in 2018.

Current federal HOS rules, which were changed earlier this year, require a 30-minute break after eight hours of driving. Washington’s MRB rules required a 30-minute break after five hours of driving and an additional 10-minute break for every four-hour work period. According to the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries, the MRB rules are outlined as such:

“Rest Breaks

Employees must be allowed a paid rest period, free from duties, of at least 10 minutes for every 4 hours worked. Additionally:

  • Employees cannot be required to work more than 3 hours without a rest break.
  • Breaks must be scheduled as close to the midpoint of a work period as possible.
  • Employers can require workers to stay on the job site during a rest break.
  • Rest breaks taken are considered “hours worked” when calculating paid sick leave and overtime.
“Meal Periods

Employees must be allowed a meal period when they work more than five hours in a shift. A meal period must be at least 30 minutes long and start between the second and fifth hour of the shift.

Depending on the length of the shift and the timing of the meal period provided, employees may also be entitled to additional meal periods.”

How Did the FMCSA Make the Determination?

The FMCSA states that “Federal law provides for preemption of State laws on commercial motor vehicle safety that are additional to or more stringent than Federal regulations if they (1) have no safety benefit; (2) are incompatible with Federal regulations; or (3) would cause an unreasonable burden on interstate commerce.”

When determining Washington’s MRB laws, they concluded that:

1) They are more stringent than the Agency's HOS regulations.

2) They have no safety benefits that extend beyond those that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) already provide.

3) They are incompatible with the Federal HOS regulations.

4) They cause an unreasonable burden on interstate commerce.

Therefore, ruling them as preempted.

What Can DISA Do?

DISA Global Solutions offers professional guidance from industry experts to help you maintain and remain up-to-date on the ever-changing FMCSA rules and regulations. As the transportation industry continues to change, our professionals will ensure that you receive the assistance necessary to remain in compliance. Regardless of the DOT agency you report to, we can help with FAA, FRA, FTA, FMCSA, PHMSA, and USCG. Additionally, our DOT mandated services include:

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