Firefighters Paid on a Salary Basis, Overtime, and the FLSA

Today’s FLSA Question: I am a rookie firefighter working for a rural county fire department. I am confused about the way firefighters in my fire department are compensated. We are paid a bi-weekly salary. However, we also receive FLSA overtime pay for all hours worked over 106 every two weeks. I am confused. I thought that being paid a salary meant that the employee did not receive any FLSA overtime. Can a firefighter be paid a salary AND also receive overtime pay?

Answer: This is a very common question related to an often-misunderstood area of the FLSA. The simple answer is, yes. Being paid on a salary basis does not impact an employee’s right to FLSA overtime. Whether an employee is entitled to FLSA overtime typically depends on that employee’s job duties in conjunction with the way they are paid (i.e., the salary they receive).  

Your confusion is likely rooted in the notion that many overtime exempt employees, namely executive, administrative, and professional (EAP) employees are often referred to as “salary” employees. Simply put, in order to be classified as an overtime exempt EAP employee, the employee must be paid on a salary basis. However, being paid a salary basis alone will not make the employee exempt. Being paid a salary is only one of the criteria necessary to properly classify an employee as an overtime exempt EAP employee. Here is more on the EAP exemptions for firefighters and other first responders.

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