Overtime Pay for Firefighters and Rescue Employees

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Overtime Pay for Firefighters and Rescue Employees

State and local Government employers are generally required to pay overtime pay for firefighters and rescue employees when they more than an average of 53 hours a week, or up to 212 hours in a 28 day cycle, if an employer has adopted and established a tour of duty or work period of between 7 and 28 days. Local government employers often pay firefighters and rescue employees illegally.

A public employee considered to be engaged in fire protection activities when they perform the following job duties:

  • the employee is employed by a fire department, trained in fire suppression, and has the legal authority and responsibility to engage in fire suppression, and
  • the employee is engaged in the prevention, control, or extinguishment of fires or response to emergency situations where life, property, or the environment is at risk.

Sleep Time May Be Work Time

Many fire protection, fire fighters, and rescue employees work twenty-four (24) hour shifts and, as a result, are allowed a sleep period at their job or work sites. Generally, a public or government employer must treat this sleep time as work that must be paid (even if the sleep is not interrupted and no emergency calls are received). An employer is allowed to deduct up to 8 hours of sleep time per shift from the number of hours that must be paid only if the following two conditions are both met:

  • the work shift is scheduled to last more than 24 hours; and
  • there is an agreement between the employer and employee that the sleep period may be deducted.

If the sleep period is interrupted by work, or the sleep period generally is less than five (5) hours, the entire eight (8) hours sleep period must be counted as hours of work.

Meal Time May Be Work Time

Many fire protection, fire fighters, and rescue employees also are required to eat meals at their job or work site. Like sleep time, employers often exclude meal periods from an employee’s compensable work time. Meal periods may be excluded from the amount of time an employee works – and not counted towards overtime pay purposes—only if the following conditions are met:

  • the work shift is scheduled to last more than 24 hours; and
  • the meal period is uninterrupted and the employee is in fact completely relieved of work duties; and
  • there is an agreement between the employer and employee that the employer may deduct such time.

If each of the required conditions is not met, meal time must be considered as compensable work time.

Questions? Contact an overtime lawyer at Werman Salas P.C.