Credit for Vacation and Sick Leave Under the FLSA

Today’s burning question: If a collective bargaining agreement requires a fire department to count vacation and sick time as hours worked for overtime purposes, do these hours have to count toward hours worked for Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) overtime purposes.

Answer: The FLSA only requires an employer to compensate an employee for hours actually worked. Thus, for FLSA purposes, vacation, sick leave, or other forms of paid leave do not count as hours worked for FLSA overtime purposes.

That is not to say that the fire department can avoid crediting you those hours for overtime purposes. It just means that an employee who is denied overtime in violation of the collective bargaining agreement must grieve the violation and/or sue under state law. They could not sue under the FLSA to enforce the CBA’s requirement relative to hours worked.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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