Fair Labor Standards Act
Posted On: Feb 10, 2016

Fair Labor Standards Act

The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 is a federal statute of the United States. The FLSA introduced the forty-hour work week, established a national minimum wage, guaranteed "time-and-a-half" for overtime in certain jobs, and prohibited most employment of minors in "oppressive child labor", a term that is defined in the statute. It applies to employees engaged in interstate commerce or employed by an enterprise engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce, unless the employer can claim an exemption from coverage.

While many of the "regular rules" of the FLSA apply to fire protection employees, there are some "special rules," as well. These include "special 7(k) work periods" which may increase the FLSA overtime thresholds, and some peculiar regulations governing "sleep time."

Public-sector (government) fire departments may establish special "7(k) work periods" for sworn firefighters, which can increase the FLSA overtime "thresholds" beyond the normal 40-hour week. Firefighters covered by these special work periods are entitled to FLSA overtime only for hours worked in excess of a threshold set by the Department of Labor on a chart. For example, in a 28-day work period, fire fighters would be entitled to FLSA overtime only for hours actually worked over 212 during that 28-day period.  The special work periods and overtime rules are available only for employees who meet the statutory definition of "employees in fire protection activities."

Private fire protection employers are not permitted to use the special §7(k) work periods, and employees of private fire companies must be paid FLSA overtime for all hours worked over 40 per week.

Government employers are permitted to pay some FLSA overtime with "comp. time" in lieu of cash wages. To be permitted to pay FLSA overtime with comp. time instead of cash, there must be an "agreement" with the employees or their union. Comp. time in lieu of cash wages for FLSA overtime must be paid at the appropriate FLSA overtime rate -- time and one-half.



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