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Electronic Code of Federal Regulations

e-CFR data is current as of February 26, 2020

Title 29Subtitle BChapter VSubchapter APart 553Subpart C → Subject Group


Title 29: Labor
PART 553—APPLICATION OF THE FAIR LABOR STANDARDS ACT TO EMPLOYEES OF STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS
Subpart C—Fire Protection and Law Enforcement Employees of Public Agencies


Tour of Duty and Compensable Hours of Work Rules

§553.220   “Tour of duty” defined.

(a) The term “tour of duty” is a unique concept applicable only to employees for whom the section 7(k) exemption is claimed. This term, as used in section 7(k), means the period of time during which an employee is considered to be on duty for purposes of determining compensable hours. It may be a scheduled or unscheduled period. Such periods include “shifts” assigned to employees often days in advance of the performance of the work. Scheduled periods also include time spent in work outside the “shift” which the public agency employer assigns. For example, a police officer may be assigned to crowd control during a parade or other special event outside of his or her shift.

(b) Unscheduled periods include time spent in court by police officers, time spent handling emergency situations, and time spent working after a shift to complete an assignment. Such time must be included in the compensable tour of duty even though the specific work performed may not have been assigned in advance.

(c) The tour of duty does not include time spent working for a separate and independent employer in certain types of special details as provided in §553.227. The tour of duty does not include time spent working on an occasional or sporadic and part-time basis in a different capacity from the regular work as provided in §553.30. The tour of duty does not include time spent substituting for other employees by mutual agreement as specified in §553.31.

(d) The tour of duty does not include time spent in volunteer firefighting or law enforcement activities performed for a different jurisdiction, even where such activities take place under the terms of a mutual aid agreement in the jurisdiction in which the employee is employed. (See §553.105.)

§553.221   Compensable hours of work.

(a) The general rules on compensable hours of work are set forth in 29 CFR part 785 which is applicable to employees for whom the section 7(k) exemption is claimed. Special rules for sleep time (§553.222) apply to both law enforcement and employees in fire protection activities for whom the section 7(k) exemption is claimed. Also, special rules for meal time apply in the case of employees in fire protection activities (§553.223). Part 785 does not discuss the special provisions that apply to State and local government workers with respect to the treatment of substitution, special details for a separate and independent employer, early relief, and work performed on an occasional or sporadic and part-time basis, all of which are covered in this subpart.

(b) Compensable hours of work generally include all of the time during which an employee is on duty on the employer's premises or at a prescribed workplace, as well as all other time during which the employee is suffered or permitted to work for the employer. Such time includes all pre-shift and post-shift activities which are an integral part of the employee's principal activity or which are closely related to the performance of the principal activity, such as attending roll call, writing up and completing tickets or reports, and washing and re-racking fire hoses.

(c) Time spent away from the employer's premises under conditions that are so circumscribed that they restrict the employee from effectively using the time for personal pursuits also constitutes compensable hours of work. For example, where a police station must be evacuated because of an electrical failure and the employees are expected to remain in the vicinity and return to work after the emergency has passed, the entire time spent away from the premises is compensable. The employees in this example cannot use the time for their personal pursuits.

(d) An employee who is not required to remain on the employer's premises but is merely required to leave word at home or with company officials where he or she may be reached is not working while on call. Time spent at home on call may or may not be compensable depending on whether the restrictions placed on the employee preclude using the time for personal pursuits. Where, for example, an employee in fire protection activities has returned home after the shift, with the understanding that he or she is expected to return to work in the event of an emergency in the night, such time spent at home is normally not compensable. On the other hand, where the conditions placed on the employee's activities are so restrictive that the employee cannot use the time effectively for personal pursuits, such time spent on call is compensable.

(e) Normal home to work travel is not compensable, even where the employee is expected to report to work at a location away from the location of the employer's premises.

(f) A police officer, who has completed his or her tour of duty and who is given a patrol car to drive home and use on personal business, is not working during the travel time even where the radio must be left on so that the officer can respond to emergency calls. Of course, the time spent in responding to such calls is compensable.

(g) The fact that employees cannot return home after work does not necessarily mean that they continue on duty after their shift. For example, employees in fire protection activities working on a forest fire may be transported to a camp after their shift in order to rest and eat a meal. As a practical matter, the employee in fire protection activities may be precluded from going to their homes because of the distance of the fire from their residences.

[52 FR 2032, Jan. 16, 1987; 52 FR 2648, Jan. 23, 1987, as amended at 76 FR 18857, Apr. 5, 2011; 82 FR 2229, Jan. 9, 2017]

§553.222   Sleep time.

(a) Where a public employer elects to pay overtime compensation to employees in fire protection activities and/or law enforcement personnel in accordance with section 7(a)(1) of the Act, the public agency may exclude sleep time from hours worked if all the conditions in §785.22 of this title are met.

(b) Where the employer has elected to use the section 7(k) exemption, sleep time cannot be excluded from the compensable hours of work where

(1) The employee is on a tour of duty of less than 24 hours, which is the general rule applicable to all employees under §785.21, and

(2) Where the employee is on a tour of duty of exactly 24 hours, which is a departure from the general rules in part 785.

(c) Sleep time can be excluded from compensable hours of work, however, in the case of police officers or employees in fire protection activities who are on a tour of duty of more than 24 hours, but only if there is an expressed or implied agreement between the employer and the employees to exclude such time. In the absence of such an agreement, the sleep time is compensable. In no event shall the time excluded as sleep time exceed 8 hours in a 24-hour period. If the sleep time is interrupted by a call to duty, the interruption must be counted as hours worked. If the sleep period is interrupted to such an extent that the employee cannot get a reasonable night's sleep (which, for enforcement purposes means at least 5 hours), the entire time must be counted as hours of work.

[52 FR 2032, Jan. 16, 1987, as amended at 76 FR 18857, Apr. 5, 2011]

§553.223   Meal time.

(a) If a public agency elects to pay overtime compensation to employees in fire protection activities and law enforcement personnel in accordance with section 7(a)(1) of the Act, the public agency may exclude meal time from hours worked if all the tests in §785.19 of this title are met.

(b) If a public agency elects to use the section 7(k) exemption, the public agency may, in the case of law enforcement personnel, exclude meal time from hours worked on tours of duty of 24 hours or less, provided that the employee is completely relieved from duty during the meal period, and all the other tests in §785.19 of this title are met. On the other hand, where law enforcement personnel are required to remain on call in barracks or similar quarters, or are engaged in extended surveillance activities (e.g., “stakeouts”), they are not considered to be completely relieved from duty, and any such meal periods would be compensable.

(c) With respect to employees in fire protection activities employed under section 7(k), who are confined to a duty station, the legislative history of the Act indicates Congressional intent to mandate a departure from the usual FLSA “hours of work” rules and adoption of an overtime standard keyed to the unique concept of “tour of duty” under which employees in fire protection activities are employed. Where the public agency elects to use the section 7(k) exemption for employees in fire protection activities, meal time cannot be excluded from the compensable hours of work where (1) the employee in fire protection activities is on a tour of duty of less than 24 hours, and (2) where the employee in fire protection activities is on a tour of duty of exactly 24 hours, which is a departure from the general rules in §785.22 of this title.

(d) In the case of police officers or employees in fire protection activities who are on a tour of duty of more than 24 hours, meal time may be excluded from compensable hours of work provided that the tests in §§785.19 and 785.22 of this title are met.

[52 FR 2032, Jan. 16, 1987, as amended at 76 FR 18857, Apr. 5, 2011]

§553.224   “Work period” defined.

(a) As used in section 7(k), the term “work period” refers to any established and regularly recurring period of work which, under the terms of the Act and legislative history, cannot be less than 7 consecutive days nor more than 28 consecutive days. Except for this limitation, the work period can be of any length, and it need not coincide with the duty cycle or pay period or with a particular day of the week or hour of the day. Once the beginning and ending time of an employee's work period is established, however, it remains fixed regardless of how many hours are worked within the period. The beginning and ending of the work period may be changed, provided that the change is intended to be permanent and is not designed to evade the overtime compensation requirements of the Act.

(b) An employer may have one work period applicable to all employees, or different work periods for different employees or groups of employees.

§553.225   Early relief.

It is a common practice among employees engaged in fire protection activities to relieve employees on the previous shift prior to the scheduled starting time. Such early relief time may occur pursuant to employee agreement, either expressed or implied. This practice will not have the effect of increasing the number of compensable hours of work for employees employed under section 7(k) where it is voluntary on the part of the employees and does not result, over a period of time, in their failure to receive proper compensation for all hours actually worked. On the other hand, if the practice is required by the employer, the time involved must be added to the employee's tour of duty and treated as compensable hours of work.

§553.226   Training time.

(a) The general rules for determining the compensability of training time under the FLSA are set forth in §§785.27 through 785.32 of this title.

(b) While time spent in attending training required by an employer is normally considered compensable hours of work, following are situations where time spent by employees of State and local governments in required training is considered to be noncompensable:

(1) Attendance outside of regular working hours at specialized or follow-up training, which is required by law for certification of public and private sector employees within a particular governmental jurisdiction (e.g., certification of public and private emergency rescue workers), does not constitute compensable hours of work for public employees within that jurisdiction and subordinate jurisdictions.

(2) Attendance outside of regular working hours at specialized or follow-up training, which is required for certification of employees of a governmental jurisdiction by law of a higher level of government (e.g., where a State or county law imposes a training obligation on city employees), does not constitute compensable hours of work.

(3) Time spent in the training described in paragraphs (b) (1) or (2) of this section is not compensable, even if all or part of the costs of the training is borne by the employer.

(c) Police officers or employees in fire protection activities, who are in attendance at a police or fire academy or other training facility, are not considered to be on duty during those times when they are not in class or at a training session, if they are free to use such time for personal pursuits. Such free time is not compensable.

[52 FR 2032, Jan. 16, 1987, as amended at 76 FR 18857, Apr. 5, 2011]

§553.227   Outside employment.

(a) Section 7(p)(1) makes special provision for fire protection and law enforcement employees of public agencies who, at their own option, perform special duty work in fire protection, law enforcement or related activities for a separate and independent employer (public or private) during their off-duty hours. The hours of work for the separate and independent employer are not combined with the hours worked for the primary public agency employer for purposes of overtime compensation.

(b) Section 7(p)(1) applies to such outside employment provided (1) The special detail work is performed solely at the employee's option, and (2) the two employers are in fact separate and independent.

(c) Whether two employers are, in fact, separate and independent can only be determined on a case-by-case basis.

(d) The primary employer may facilitate the employment or affect the conditions of employment of such employees. For example, a police department may maintain a roster of officers who wish to perform such work. The department may also select the officers for special details from a list of those wishing to participate, negotiate their pay, and retain a fee for administrative expenses. The department may require that the separate and independent employer pay the fee for such services directly to the department, and establish procedures for the officers to receive their pay for the special details through the agency's payroll system. Finally, the department may require that the officers observe their normal standards of conduct during such details and take disciplinary action against those who fail to do so.

(e) Section 7(p)(1) applies to special details even where a State law or local ordinance requires that such work be performed and that only law enforcement or fire protection employees of a public agency in the same jurisdiction perform the work. For example, a city ordinance may require the presence of city police officers at a convention center during concerts or sports events. If the officers perform such work at their own option, the hours of work need not be combined with the hours of work for their primary employer in computing overtime compensation.

(f) The principles in paragraphs (d) and (e) of this section with respect to special details of public agency fire protection and law enforcement employees under section 7(p)(1) are exceptions to the usual rules on joint employment set forth in part 791 of this title.

(g) Where an employee is directed by the public agency to perform work for a second employer, section 7(p)(1) does not apply. Thus, assignments of police officers outside of their normal work hours to perform crowd control at a parade, where the assignments are not solely at the option of the officers, would not qualify as special details subject to this exception. This would be true even if the parade organizers reimburse the public agency for providing such services.

(h) Section 7(p)(1) does not prevent a public agency from prohibiting or restricting outside employment by its employees.

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