Federal firefighters are generally entitled to a special form of compensation that bars them from receiving holiday premium pay. Under current law, any firefighter with a regular tour of duty that averages 53 hours or more per week is compensated under special basic pay and overtime pay rules. By law, these firefighters are not entitled to any other form of premium pay, including holiday premium pay. The current law became effective in October 1998.
Certain firefighters have a regular 40-hour tour of duty and do not receive any type of special compensation. These firefighters would be entitled to holiday premium pay on the same basis as regular employees.
Federal firefighters paid under special firefighter pay provisions are not entitled to be excused from duty on a holiday and paid for holiday hours during which no work is performed. They are not covered by the normal holiday rules. They can be required to work on a holiday at their normal pay rate, with no entitlement to holiday premium pay. An individual firefighter may be permitted to take annual or sick leave on a holiday. In rare circumstances in which an agency determines that firefighters' services are not required on a particular holiday, the agency may at its discretion grant these firefighters excused absence with pay, without charge to leave.
Firefighters' pay under the special firefighter pay provisions is considered to be complete compensation for all hours of work, taking into account the fact that firefighters may work at night and on Sundays and holidays due to the nature of their work. There is a presumption that employees will perform duty on holidays falling within their regularly scheduled tours of duty (56 Comp. Gen. 551).