by Michael Fox
Wading into one of the more arcane areas of wage and hour law, the 8th Circuit manages to split amongst itself and also with the 6th Circuit. The area of contention -- whether payments to firefighters under a sick leave buy back should be included as part of their regular rate of pay. Regular rate of pay is important because it is that figure that is used in calculating overtime. According to the 2 member majority of the 8th Circuit panel, it is. Acton v. City of Columbia (8th Cir. 2/8/06) [pdf].
The main function of the case may be to serve as a reminder of the general principle -- all payments to an employee must be included in the computation of the regular rate of pay, unless it meets one of 8 specific statutory exclusions. Just one of the many traps in the FLSA for the unwary employer.