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Original Author: Hemsley, Sid
Date of Material: 01/08/1992


Sleep Time Deduction for Firefighters

Reviewed Date: 05/21/2021
MTAS was asked whether the sleep time deduction for firemen requires five consecutive hours of uninterrupted sleep.

July 8, 1992

Your question is, does the sleep time deduction for firemen require five
consecutive hours of uninterrupted sleep? I am assuming for the purposes of this letter that the tour
of duty is more than 24 hours and that there is an express or impled agreement on the part of the
firefighters for the sleep deduction; both are prerequisites for the deduction.

29 C.F.R., § 553.222 permits the deduction of sleep time on the part
of 207(k) employees to a maximum of eight hours, if all the conditions of 29 C.F.R. 785.22 are met.
29 C.F.R. 785.22(b) treats sleep interruptions as follows:

- Interruptions by call to duty must be counted as hours worked.

- If the sleep period is interrupted to such an extent that the employee
cannot get a reasonable night's sleep, the entire period must be counted as hours worked.

- For enforcement purposes, if the employee cannot get at least five hours'
sleep during the scheduled period, the entire time is working time.

The Department of Labor (DOL) Letter Ruling of September 11, 1987, in
applying those provision to a question identical to yours, opines that, "These five hours need not be
five continuous uninterrupted hours of sleep. However, if interruptions are so frequent as to
prevent reasonable periods of sleep totaling not less than five hours, the entire period would be
considered to be hours worked under the FLSA."

Here is a copy of the DOL Letter Ruling. Let me know if I can help you further.


Sidney D. Hemsley
Senior Law Consultant