Overtime Pay for Public Safety Officers

If you are a law enforcement officer, firefighter, paramedic or corrections officer, you may not be receiving all of the overtime wages you have earned.  The most common overtime violations for these Public Safety Officers involve work undertaken outside of the regular shift, or off-the-clock (e.g. before or after you clock in or out for your shift or during a meal break for which you are not compensated).

Public Safety Officers are entitled to be paid for every duty they perform that is “integral and indispensable” (that is, directly related) to their jobs.  If such duties are performed off-the-clock and therefore without compensation, it is a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act and state labor laws.

In general, if you as a Public Safety Officer perform any of the following duties while off-the-clock, then you may be entitled to overtime compensation:

  • Attend line-ups or pre-shift meetings or briefings;
  • Attend mandatory training;
  • Write reports;
  • Perform or are subject to security checks at the beginning and end of each shift;
  • Community outreach (education, programs, etc.);
  • On-call time – compensability for on-call time depends on specific circumstances detailed here

In addition to these areas, some duties are unique to particular types of Public Safety Officers.  If you perform any of the following duties while off-the-clock, then you may be entitled to overtime compensation:

Law Enforcement Officers

  • Cleaning or inspecting firearms;
  • Donning special equipment;
  • Interviewing or following up with witnesses or cooperating individuals;
  • K-9 handlers who care for the dogs at home;
  • Sergeants, lieutenants, and commanders also may be entitled to overtime, even if they supervise other officers, if their primary duty is police work, such as investigating and preventing crime.

Firefighters/Paramedics

  • Checking and restocking fire and rescue vehicles;
  • Maintaining the station;
  • Shopping for station supplies and food;
  • Inspecting and repairing equipment.

Corrections Officers

  • Inmate “count”;
  • Transfer of prisoners;
  • Performing searches of person and property (both inmate and general public);
  • Supervision of inmate work detail (indoor or outdoor).

These are some examples of some of the ways Public Safety Officers work off-the-clock and do  not  get credited for all of their hours worked, which results in them being deprived of overtime compensation.  However, there are many ways in which Public Safety Officers may be deprived of wages. Just remember, if you perform duties directly related to your job, you should be compensated for such time.

Importantly, the overtime rights of Public Safety Officers cannot be waived by the provisions of any bargaining agreement.  That is, no union contract can override the federally protected right to overtime wages.

The Shavitz Law Group, P.A. can help you determine what your rights may be in light of the specific facts at your current job, or at any former job within the past three (3) years, so if you believe were not paid overtime wages for all of the hours you worked, or have other questions about your pay, contact us today.