7 August 20236 minute read

Know Your Rights: Guide to Delivery Driver Labor Laws in 2023

Guide to Delivery Driver Labor Laws: court gavel

Knowing your delivery driver rights can protect you. You should know your routes too, that’s where Circuit Route Planner can help.

As a delivery driver, you’ve got enough hassle to deal with. There are plenty of everyday challenges, from racing to get deliveries done on time to facing off against barking dogs and hauling packages come rain or shine.

You don’t want to deal with unfair treatment from the companies you work for on top of it all. But just what constitutes unfair treatment — and what are your rights as a delivery driver in the first place?

It depends on many factors, from who you work for to the nature of your work contract and where you live.

For example, you may work as an independent contractor for a company like Grubhub or Uber Eats, or you might be employed as a truck driver by a logistics provider like FedEx or UPS. So, the terms of your working contract will vary.

In either case, understanding regional and state labor laws can help safeguard your interests. Here’s how.

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What are labor laws?

There isn’t any one labor law governing workers’ rights.

In fact, labor laws refer to an entire body of legislation covering points impacting worker conditions and well-being.

Pay and benefits, working conditions, trade unions, terms of employment, workweek standards, worker health and safety, and social security are all covered under labor law.

Labor laws aim to protect worker rights and make sure companies don’t unfairly take advantage of them. For example, labor laws make sure that workers get paid a minimum wage and receive certain benefits.

Labor laws vary by country. Here’s a quick overview of where you can find details about your area’s labor laws if you live in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, or Canada.

Where can you find United States labor law information? 

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) offers a database of the nation’s labor laws. Topics covered include wages and hours, workplace safety and health, worker compensation, unions, and more.

You can get a summary of the various U.S. employment laws on the Department of Labor website.

Where can you find United Kingdom labor law information? 

The U.K. government has a similar database that gives an overview of worker rights in the country. Some points include employment contracts and working hours, staff dismissals and redundancies, payroll, holiday entitlement and statutory leave, and worker health and safety.

You can find a full overview of available legislation on the U.K. government’s official website.

Where can you find Australian labor law information? 

The Australian Trade and Investment Commission is responsible for overseeing worker rights in Australia. They oversee similar points affecting workers, such as employment conditions, health and safety, and worker compensation.

You can get additional insights on the Australian Trade and Investment Commission website.

Where can you find Canadian labor law information? 

Canada’s federal labor laws cover many of the same points included in U.S., U.K., and Australian labor law. This includes working hours, vacation days, paid and unpaid leave, employees’ wages and deductions, termination of employment, and more.

Visit the Government of Canada’s official website to learn more about the Canadian labor code.

About the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

delivery driver with packages

If you’re delivery driving in the U.S., one of the most critical pieces of legislation you must know about is  the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). In 1938, the act established a minimum wage for American workers.

It’s more expansive today, touching on topics like overtime pay, record-keeping, and limitations on youth employment. According to the FLSA, all nonexempt employees (employees who are entitled to overtime pay for hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek) are entitled to minimum wage.

Straightforward enough, right? Still, a delivery driver should dig a little deeper into what’s meant by “wage.”

Think about it this way.

U.S. legislation calculates wage as what’s left after you subtract your unreimbursed employment costs from your earnings.

In this case, any unreimbursed costs that you need  to do your job.

Including fuel, vehicle parts, car repairs, and auto insurance for a delivery driver who uses their own vehicle.

Real talk: If your employer needs you to use your own car for delivery work and your unreimbursed costs (like fuel) cut into your wages to the extent that your earnings fall below the minimum wage, your employer might be violating the FLSA.

That said, the FLSA only applies to specific types of work agreements, and not all delivery drivers are covered by it. Find out if you’re covered below.

How the FLSA can affect delivery drivers 

The FLSA applies to drivers who are fully established employees and have an employment contract with a provider. It doesn’t apply to independent contractors, such as if you’re driving for Grubhub, Postmates, or Uber Eats.

In recent years, gig economy workers have discovered that the FLSA offers limited or no protection for them. However, there have been some successful lawsuits initiated by employed delivery drivers against their employers for violating the FLSA.

For example, pizza delivery drivers who work for a specific restaurant might be affected by the FLSA. The same is true for people traditionally employed by FedEx, USPS, or UPS.

Does the FLSA apply to independent contractors (like Uber Eats and Grubhub)?

delivery driver legal paperwork

In today’s gig landscape, the FLSA still doesn’t apply to drivers working for ride-share and delivery service apps like Uber Eats and Grubhub—because these drivers are classified as independent contractors, not employees.

But there have been legal cases where independent contractors have won lawsuits under FLSA terms. How?

It comes down to the label of “independent contractor” and just what it means.

Some employers misclassify food delivery drivers as independent contractors and label them as such — although they technically don’t meet the requirements of an independent contractor.

Various factors determine whether a person qualifies as an independent contractor from a legal standpoint. For example, the hiring organization can’t control or direct the nature of the contractor’s work, like when, where, and how much they work.

So, just because a driver is called an independent contractor doesn’t mean they technically are in the eyes of the law. Delivery drivers who are paid a daily rate with set hours may fall into this misclassification trap.

For example: Suppose you’re paid a daily rate. Take the total wages you get for a day and divide them by the hours you worked. That number should be more than the minimum wage. If it’s not, and your working conditions mean you don’t meet independent contractor status, your employer could be violating the FLSA.

What is delivery reimbursement?

Let’s say you’re not an independent contractor. You’re officially employed to do delivery driving — for instance, by a local pizza restaurant that has a dedicated team of drivers instead of using Postmates or similar delivery apps.

In this case, your employer should reimburse costs that could bring your wage below the minimum requirement. Note that there are state and federal minimum wage laws. Some states, like California and New York, have higher minimum wages than the one established by federal law.

Your employer can pay you back for expenses that happen when using your personal vehicle for work through delivery expense reimbursement. Examples include motor vehicle expenses and work-related gas costs.

There have been class-action lawsuits where drivers have taken collective action against an employer for not meeting legal reimbursement rate requirements.

Such as in 2014, sandwich chain Jimmy John’s was accused of not properly reimbursing drivers for actual expenses incurred to do their jobs, such as mobile GPS costs and auto insurance.

Are delivery drivers tipped employees? 

Another labor law detail affecting delivery drivers relates to a tipping exemption. The FLSA allows employers to pay a minimum wage lower than the federal standard if an employee gets tips.

Depending on the state, the hourly wage for these workers can be as little as $2.13 per hour. Since delivery drivers get tips, they’re often framed as tipped employees. 

What’s the catch?

Well, if you’re a delivery driver who performs other duties that aren’t tipped in the course of your work, you must get the required minimum wage.

Let’s say you deliver sandwiches for a sub shop — but they also have you make sandwiches in the kitchen (where you don’t get tipped). In this case, they owe you the minimum wage.

Discover how Circuit can make your delivery job faster and easier

What’s the easiest way to find out if your labor rights as a delivery driver are being violated?

Seek legal advice and hire professionals. A law firm can determine whether you have a case.

Figuring out how labor laws impact you as a delivery driver is complicated enough. You want to at least keep your job as simple as possible.

Optimize your delivery route and get home earlier with Circuit Route Planner. Click here to download now.

About the author

Heather Reinblatt
Heather ReinblattContributor

Heather Reinblatt is a managing editor currently living in St. Louis, Missouri. She spends her free time reading, trying new recipes, and cuddling her cat Paisley. You can find Heather on LinkedIn.