(a) Section 13(b)(20) of the FLSA provides a complete overtime pay exemption for “any employee of a public agency who in any workweek is employed in fire protection activities or any employee of a public agency who in any workweek is employed in law enforcement activities (including security personnel in correctional institutions), if the public agency employs during the workweek less than 5 employees in fire protection or law enforcement activities, as the case may be.”
(b) In determining whether a public agency qualifies for the section 13(b)(20) exemption, the fire protection and law enforcement activities are considered separately. Thus, if a public agency employs less than five employees in fire protection activities, but five or more employees in law enforcement activities (including security personnel in a correctional institution), it may claim the exemption for the fire protection employees but not for the law enforcement employees. No distinction is made between full-time and part-time employees, or between employees on duty and employees on leave status, and all such categories must be counted in determining whether the exemption applies. Individuals who are not considered “employees” for purposes of the FLSA by virtue of section 3(e) of the Act (including persons who are “volunteers” within the meaning of § 553.101, and “elected officials and their appointees” within the meaning of § 553.11) are not counted in determining whether the section 13(b)(20) exemption applies.
(c) The section 13(b)(20) exemption applies on a workweek basis. It is therefore possible that employees may be subject to maximum hours standard in certain workweeks, but not in others. In those workweeks in which the section 13(b)(20) exemption does not apply, the public agency is entitled to utilize the section 7(k) exemption which is explained below in § 553.201.