FOP calls for Public Safety exclusion from proposed FLSA regulations


Today National President Chuck Canterbury called on the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to provide for the exclusion of public safety employees from the proposed regulations governing the "executive," "administrative," and "professional" employee exemptions from overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Canterbury's statements came as the FOP submitted its official written comments on the DOL proposal published in the Federal Register on 31 March 2003.

"With respect to DOL's current proposal, the FOP is not concerned with how these exemptions have been applied in the past to State and local public safety employees," Canterbury said, "but rather with how they are to be applied to these brave men and women in the future."

The proposed rule was designed to "update and revise" existing FLSA regulations contained in 29 CFR Part 541, the so-called "white collar" exemptions from minimum wage and overtime pay for certain employees. These regulations, implementing Section 13(a)(1) of the FLSA, require employees to meet "certain minimum tests related to their primary job duties and be paid on a salary basis at not less than specified minimum amounts" to be considered exempt under the Act.

Canterbury said that the FOP is primarily concerned that the regulations as proposed do not reflect the unique nature of public safety work, and that they may lead to the exemption of public safety officers who currently receive overtime pay. In its written comments, the FOP argued that the new realities of public safety work following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks highlight the need to ensure fair compensation for all hours worked by police officers, fire fighters, and EMTs.

"Since 9/11, our nation's first responders have been asked to work countless hours of overtime to meet the staffing requirements of their agencies as they try to cope with new threats to the safety and security of the communities they serve," Canterbury said. "The FOP believes that the exclusion of public safety officers from the Part 541 regulations appropriately accounts for the challenges faced by these brave men and women in the post 9/11 environment. This would ensure that overtime compensation is available to the majority of public safety officers whose continued performance of overtime work is vital to the security of our nation."

The Fraternal Order of Police is the largest law enforcement labor organization in the United States, with over 306,000 members.