Firefighters, Daylight Savings Time, and the FLSA

Does your state participate in daylight savings time? Most likely, you answered yes to this question. Now, in addition to changing the batteries on your smoke and CO detectors, have you considered how daylights savings time may impact a firefighter’s hours worked? Since it is getting to be that time of year again, here is a post from dating back to December 2017. This post is just as relevant now as it was then.

Today’s FLSA question: I am a paid firefighter. I worked a 24-hour overtime shift a couple of Saturday’s ago. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, it was the last day of daylight savings time. I worked 25 hours instead of 24 hours. But I was only paid 24 hours of overtime. Doesn’t the FLSA require payment for all 25 hours?

Answer: You are correct. The FLSA requires all non-exempt employees be credited for all hours worked. While the FLSA and regulations do not directly address daylight savings time, the basic requirements of the FLSA require employees be paid for all hours worked. While the FLSA is full of exceptions, exemptions, and exclusions, none of these apply to daylight savings time.

Similarly, the FLSA does not require employers pay employees for the hour when daylight savings time begins, and clocks are moved up an hour. In your scenario, if you worked overtime six months earlier, when the clocks were advanced an hour, the fire department would only need to pay you for twenty-three hours.

Daylight savings time often creates unique challenges for public sector employers. There is a common misconception that if a fire department does not dock pay when daylight savings time begins, they do not have to pay for the extra hour when it ends. That rationale would only apply if the daylight savings time began and ended in the same work period. Remember, each work period must stand on its own and the longest possible work period for 207(k) firefighters is 28 days.

The Department of Labor has issued an advisory bulletin that is available on its website that addresses this issue. It can be found here.

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