Gannett pays you to drive — but not when you ride?

[Lucy, Ethel, Ricky and Fred sing: Who will get paid overtime?]
In an an e-mail, a reader urges me to write about Gannett’s policy on paying employee wages during the time they’re traveling to and from an assignment. “Our shop does not pay an employee who is a passenger in a car, while traveling with another employee, who does the driving,” the reader notes. “They say, ‘that’s the law.’ I think this doesn’t make sense, and I don’t think it’s the law, either. . . . This becomes an issue in the fall, when we go on the road for football coverage. I think that when there’s no overtime during the travel-as-passenger week, it’s not a big deal. But if we have overtime, which is usually most of the time, they cross off the travel time if we are not driving, reducing the OT pay.”

What’s the policy at your worksite? Please post your replies in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, write gannettblog[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.

[Image: I Love Lucy, California, Here We Come!]

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13 Responses to “Gannett pays you to drive — but not when you ride?”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Our paper tried to pull this stuff during the last 1990s. HR looked into it and … poof, we were allowed to charge for “passenger time.”

    Haven’t heard a word about it since.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    *late 1990s.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    So take a cab. Then tell accounting you were a passenger in the car, but it was a taxicab and so I had to pay a fare.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    God, get OVER it. We’re lucky to have jobs at all and it irks me when people b1tch about piddly-azz sh1t like this.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Tell them you will only travel when you are scheduled to work.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    A similar policy was trotted out earlier this year at our mid-sized metro, but as I understood it the unpaid “passenger” time only applied to travel that took place before the work day started. In other words, you could come into the office, check email and make a few calls, then ride with a photographer to a football game and you’d be on the clock. However, if there was a hurricane several counties away and you were called in on Saturday morning to cover the aftermath, you would not be paid if the same photographer swung by your house and then drove you to the scene.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    They did this in the sports department at my old Gannett shop.

    If it was an especially long trip, they’d have the sports editor, sports columnist or other salaried person drive and the hourly employee ride so they wouldn’t be on the hook for overtime.

    At least they were upfront about it and admitted that’s why the other person was going, I guess.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    11:35 AM
    That’s sure a heck of a lot money to pay a driver, isn’t it?

  9. Anonymous Says:

    Partial solution: Carpool to the event but tell the boss you traveled separately. You can argue to accounting that there was no reason for a photographer to stick around for three hours after the football game while the reporter polished off his gamer/sidebar/notebook.

    Added bonus: Everyone submits mileage for the full distance separately.

  10. Anonymous Says:

    Re: Anon 10:49

    “” God, get OVER it. We’re lucky to have jobs at all and it irks me when people b1tch about piddly-azz sh1t like this “”

    When you spend three to four hours in a car or on an assignment that requires a five hour drive this is not “piddly-azz sh1t” it’s thousands of dollars a year.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    Check out page 2 of the following document I found on the Dept. of Labor’s website:

    http://www.dol.gov/esa/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs22.pdf

    What does that read to you about this?

  12. Anonymous Says:

    I never carpooled to events with anyone. I didn’t like to be tied to someone else’s schedule for starters — meaning I didn’t want to have to cut short an interview or a conversation that might lead to another story down the line just because “my ride” was leaving or needed to leave. And I never wanted to be in a situation where if an emergency arose with my child, I was unable to get to her. Our site never paid OT for driving time to assignments, at least not that I’m aware.

  13. Anonymous Says:

    About the OT for drive time, I think the point here was that when OT was claimed, someone cut out the time spent as passenger, but let the person claim that time in non-OT weeks. That’s just inconsistent application of policy in my opinion.

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