Today’s FLSA Question: I have a question about FLSA comp time. Do the hours a firefighter does not work because he or she is using accrued FLSA compensatory time (comp time) need to be included when determining overtime for the work period? I don’t believe they need to be included, since the FLSA typically only requires counting hours worked by firefighters when determining overtime eligibility. But comp time is a little different. The whole reason a firefighter is receiving FLSA comp time is because they were once eligible for FLSA overtime.
Answer: The FLSA only requires hours worked by firefighters included when determining overtime eligibility for the work period. Whether the firefighter is utilizing accrued comp time, vacation, sick leave, or even personal leave is immaterial. Some state laws and collective bargaining agreements require the inclusion of certain idle hours in the overtime calculation, however this is not an FLSA requirement.
I can certainly understand your uncertainty surrounding the administration of comp time. Comp time is a highly unique form of accrued leave only available to public agency employees. In fact, the FLSA and regulations contain numerous special rules pertaining to FLSA comp time usage alone. Fire department leaders, municipal human resource and finance officials need to stay ahead of the curve on all FLSA compliance issues. This is especially true for unique provisions within the FLSA and regulations that are only applicable to public agency employees (like firefighters)!