Disaster Zone

Should Overtime Pay for FEMA Employees Be Limited?

I have some empathy, but not much sympathy.

by Eric Holdeman / December 7, 2017

Here I am, a FEMA employee making $154,000 a year and my overtime is being limited to $7,400. Is that fair? If they overpay me, should I be forced to pay back the over-payment? 

These are some of the "minor" personnel issues that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is dealing with. Check out this Bloomberg article, FEMA Staffers Told They Might Be Billed for Working Too Much.

If those are the work rules, then those are the work rules. If you want to have "four swings at the ball when batting," play a different game than what regulation baseball is today. 

Not every FEMA employee is paid $154K a year — that I'm positive of. I don't quite understand how anyone at that salary level is not FLSA Exempt. Anywhere I worked, for senior managers, there was no overtime. You work, work, work, holidays, weekends, and there was no extra pay. You worked until the job was done, 52 weeks a year.

At King County I had my own emergency management coordinators who worked long hard hours during activations and we explored ways to provide them more pay. We never could do it because they were FLSA exempt. The best thing we could do for them was to provide some limited compensatory time. 

I noted this one comment in the article that I'm pretty sure is incorrect, "Billing staff or docking pay could reduce the willingness of FEMA employees or other Homeland Security staff to sign up for deployments in the future ..."  Ah, employees don't get an "option" to sign up for deployments. One of the things Craig Fugate put in place during his tenure was the requirement in every job description that you will be eligible for assignment to disaster response and recovery duties — away from your home. It is now a condition of employment with the agency. 

All of the above may be another contributing reason for FEMA staff to seek other employment options in the coming months and years. 

Chuck Wallace shared the story link above.