Firefighter Overtime Pay
Sleep Time May Be Work Time
Many fire protection, firefighters, 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, firefighters, 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.