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Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) & Firefighters


How the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) affects fire departments and their firefighters


The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal law that establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and child labor standards for employees in the United States. However, the FLSA contains several exemptions for certain types of employees, including firefighters.


Firefighters play an essential role in protecting our communities and responding to emergencies. However, their work schedules are often irregular and can involve working long hours. Many firefighters work 24-hour shifts and are on-call for extended periods. As a result, it can be challenging to determine their hours worked and whether they are entitled to overtime pay.


Under the FLSA, firefighters are considered "public safety employees" and are exempt from certain overtime pay requirements. Specifically, firefighters who work for public agencies are not entitled to overtime pay until they have worked more than 212 hours in a 28-day work period. This is commonly referred to as the "207(k) exemption" or the "firefighter overtime exemption."


In addition to the 207(k) exemption, the FLSA also contains a provision that allows public agencies to establish "work periods" that are longer than the traditional 7-day workweek. This provision is designed to accommodate the unique scheduling demands of public safety employees, including firefighters. As a result, many fire departments use a 28-day work period, which allows firefighters to work longer shifts while still complying with the FLSA.


It is important to note that the 207(k) exemption does not apply to all firefighters. For example, firefighters who work for private companies are not exempt from the FLSA's overtime pay requirements. Additionally, some states have their own overtime pay laws that may differ from the FLSA.


Overall, the FLSA contains several provisions that are specifically designed to address the unique scheduling demands of firefighters and other public safety employees. While the 207(k) exemption and other provisions can be complex, they are essential for ensuring that firefighters are fairly compensated for their important work in protecting our communities.


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