are some FLSA provisions which are specific to EMTs and paramedics,
and especially those who work for public-sector (government) employers.
and file" EMTs and paramedics are nonexempt, and entitled to
overtime pay for overtime hours worked under the FLSA. Whether an
EMS employee is exempt or nonexempt depends on the "salary
basis tests" and "duties tests" rules. (see, "Coverage
under the FLSA.")
employers compensate their EMS employees under the special "§7(k)"
work period rules which apply to employees in fire protection and
law enforcement. Employees who work under 7(k) systems are not entitled
to FLSA overtime until they meet an overtime "threshold"
larger than the normal 40 hour work week. This is sometimes permissible
for EMS employees, and sometimes not.
are permitted only for government employees. They are not permitted
in private sector employment.
employees, the 7(k) pay rules can apply to "employees engaged
in fire protection activities" and "employees engaged
in law enforcement activities." It is (at least theoretically)
possible that EMS employees may qualify under either standard, but
usually government EMS employees are classified under the 7(k) rules
as employees in fire protection.
fire protection activities is defined in the FLSA (§203[y]) as follows:
fire protection activities' means an employee, including a firefighter,
paramedic, emergency medical technician, rescue worker, ambulance
personnel, or hazardous materials worker, who
- is trained
in fire suppression, has the legal authority and responsibility
to engage in fire suppression, and is employed by a fire department
of a municipality, county, fire district, or State,
- and is engaged
in the prevention, control, and extinguishment of fires or response
to emergency medical situations where life, property, or the environment
is at risk.
Thus, to qualify for 7(k) pay as a fire protection employee,
an EMS employee must (a) work for a (government) fire department,
(b) be trained in fire suppression, (c) have the legal authority
to fight fires, (d) have the responsibility to fight fires, (e)
and either actually engage in fire suppression work or non-fire
firefighters also do EMS work, as well as fighting fires as needed.
These employees are typically eligible for 7(k) pay systems. However,
sometimes EMS employees work at a fire department but are not "real"
firefighters (e.g., are not trained in fire suppression) and do
only medical work. These employees are typically not eligible for
7(k) pay systems and must be paid based on 40 hour work weeks.
There are some
"grey(er)" areas under this statute. For example, the
statute does not specify what "trained in fire suppression"
means. Nor does the statute specify what is meant by "responsibility
to engage in fire suppression." Nor is the statute entirely
clear about whether and when 7(k) could apply to employees who
do not work for fire departments. At least theoretically, such employees
could still be 7(k) eligible if they are "engaged in law enforcement
See, also, Firefighters