What are an employee’s responsibilities regarding the use of a company vehicle?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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What are an employee’s responsibilities regarding the use of a company vehicle?

My situation is I have hourly employees who drive service trucks to and from home for work daily and in the extreme cold this vehicle failed to start. Am I obligated to pay them for attempting to get the vehicle started at their home jump starting, etc. when they do/do not come to work? What are the employees responsibilities when it comes to maintaining this vehicle? We provide electric engine/block heaters they do not plug in at night.

Is this compensable?

Asked on January 31, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

As you correctly point out, commute time is not compensible. If they could have come to work some other way then the vehicles which failed due to cold, they would need to, and you would not need to pay them until they actually started working. But if they needed the truck to do their job, then attempting to get it started, or waiting for roadside assistance, IS work time, the same way that it would be work time downloading necessary programs to a company computer or tinkering with a jammed copy machine at work to make copies. So if the truck was necessary, you have to pay them for the time spent on the truck.
If you don't like how they maintain their work vehicles or their failure to plug in heaters, you can suspend, demote, cut their pay, or terminate them at your option, so long as they do not have a written employment contract preventing you from doing those things. Without a contract, employment in this nation is "employment at will," and an employer may take any disciplinary steps the employer wants against employees whom the employer feels have in some way failed or done poorly at work.

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