Overtime Rules for Police and Law Enforcement Employees

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Overtime Rules for Police and Law Enforcement Employees

State and local government employers are generally required to pay police and law enforcement employees overtime pay when they work more an average of 43 hours a week, if the government employer has adopted tour of duty or work period of 7 to 28 days.

Not all persons employed in public safety or security positions are considered to be police and law enforcement employees. Instead, only persons who are engaged in the following activities are generally law enforcement employees:

  • have the power to enforce public safety and criminal laws, including correctional institution security personnel, regardless of whether they are uniformed or plain clothed officers;
  • have arrest powers; and
  • have received training and instructing in firearm proficiency, criminal and civil law principles, investigation and law enforcement techniques, self-defense, community relations, medical aid, and ethics.

A law enforcement employee’s rank or duty assignment is irrelevant.

Employees are frequently misclassified as partially exempt law enforcement employees who are employed in the following jobs: public safety officers without the power to arrest, maintenance workers, clerical employees in police stations, jails and correction institutions, building and health inspectors, parking attendants, animal control workers, sanitation employees, traffic control employees, tax compliance agents, building guards, or civilian support personnel such as dispatchers, radio operators, and medical staff.

Law Enforcement Jobs Are Often Misclassified As Exempt From The Overtime Laws

Arson Investigators

Arson investigators are not fire fighters. Thus, arson investigators must generally be paid overtime pay after they work over 40 or 43 hours in week (depending if they are law enforcement employees), and not after 53 hours in a week, like firefighters.

Dispatchers

Employees who are employed as dispatchers who provide emergency communications to police officers, fire fighters, public safety personnel and who direct equipment to fire, crime and accident scenes, generally must be paid overtime when they work over 40 hours in work week.

Public Safety Officers

Many cities and towns employ persons as “public safety officers,” who work performing both fire protection and law enforcement activities. Such employees are often employed, for example, at local and regional airports. If an employee performs job duties of both a law enforcement and fire protection employee, they must be paid overtime based on activity during the work period that takes up the majority of his or her time. Thus, if the employee principally works as a law enforcement employee in the week, they must be paid overtime when they work more than 43 hours in a week. Likewise, if the employee principally works as fire protection employee in the week, they must be paid overtime when they work more than 53 hours in the week.

Canine (K-9) and Dog Handlers

Under the FLSA, all time that is worked is considered to be compensable and must be paid. For persons who work as canine (K-9) or dog handlers, the time they spend at home or outside their scheduled work shift caring or working with their for dogs is work time. Thus, canine (K-9) or dog handlers must be paid – often at overtime rates – for the time they spend caring for their dogs. This time might include walking, grooming, training, and feeding the dog.

Roll-Call Time, Lineups, and Other Pre-Shift and Post-Shift Work Activities

Law enforcement employees must – with some exceptions – be paid for work activities that are performed before or after their work shift when those activities are an integral and indispensable part of the principal work activities for which the person is employed. With respect to law enforcement employees, time that is spent attending lineups and roll call, cleaning guns, weapons and firearms, checking firearms in and out, inspecting and repairing equipment, attending meetings or briefings, or writing reports, are often considered to be an integral and indispensable part of the principal work activities and must be paid, often at overtime rates.

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