Firefighters, Workers’ Compensation, and the FLSA

Today’s FLSA Question: Does the FLSA mandate overtime pay for a firefighter that is not working, but collecting workers’ compensation benefits due to an on-the-job injury?

Answer: No. The FLSA does not mandate overtime pay for hours a firefighter is not working due to an on-the-job injury. The FLSA only requires overtime pay for hours actually worked.

However, your question does raise an interesting point. While the FLSA does not require overtime payments for injured firefighters, local workers’ compensation regulations may require these types of payments included in an injured firefighters’ pay. This can only be determined by examining local workers’ compensation regulations, state laws, and other local rules and regulations related to compensating injured firefighters.

Workers’ compensation regulations are local in nature. Individual states require most employers provide workers’ compensation insurance for their employees. In exchange for this insurance requirement employees are generally restricted from suing their employers for most workplace injuries.

Typically, when an employee suffers an on-the-job injury, he or she receives compensation based on their past earnings. Some states require “scheduled” or “averaged overtime” included in this “past earnings” calculation. Firefighters receiving workers’ compensation in these states would likely have overtime included in their workers’ compensation pay. However, ultimately that would depend on state law.

But not all states treat injured firefighters the same. Some states have special rules for injured firefighters. In these states there are separate statutes dedicated solely to providing benefits for firefighters injured on-the-job or in the line-of-duty. Whether or not overtime pay must be included for these injured firefighters depends on these specific statutes. Again, the answer lies in the state law, not the FLSA.

Finally, some firefighters may receive additional benefits and compensation following an on-the-job injury through collective bargaining agreements or city policies. While these enhanced benefits may be unusual, they could also impact the way wages are paid for injured firefighters and need to be considered.

So, while the FLSA does not per se require overtime pay for injured firefighters, it is especially important for fire department administrators to be up to date on state regulations and other factors that may require overtime pay included in an injured firefighter’s workers’ compensation.

Contact  William Maccarone to Discuss The Article