Q & A Session – Charging Annual Time


Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.


I am a Federal firefighter.  We work 72-hour shifts.  Usually when I go Temporary Duty (TDY), I do not need to report to work the day of my return.

Recently, a co-worker was sent TDY to a training class for several weeks.  When he returned, his shift was working and he was told that he would have four hours to return to work or else he would have to take annual leave.  He was charged for 12.5 hours of annual leave.  Can the Agency do this?


It is difficult to give an exact answer without understanding the details of the travel time, the number of compensable hours your colleague had worked that week and other related factors.  You likely work under a collective bargaining agreement, and the agreement may govern situations such as the one you describe.

I have seen the firefighter regulations in Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)– the email appears to contain far too few details to answer the question.  There are complex formulas regarding the number of hours worked that month to consider, exclusions which say training for certification purposes are not considered work, and so on.  There are no special rules regarding travel time that I notice except for travel time used to respond to emergencies (firefighters from Maryland traveling to help put out wildfires in Texas, for instance).

Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw, Bransford & Roth, PC.

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