Alternative Work Periods
Government police officers, fire fighters, and (some) EMS employees may be paid either on the standard 40 hour work week or on so-called "7(k)" systems (which are also sometimes called "Garcia cycles"). 29 USC §207(k). In 7(k) systems, FLSA overtime pay is due if, when, and to the extent a police officer, fire fighter or EMS employee actually works more than the number of hours specified by the Department of Labor as applying to a particular "work period." For example, under a "14 day 7(k) work period" system a police officer is due FLSA overtime pay only if, when and to the extent actual hours worked exceed 86 in the 14 day work period. Under a "28 day 7(k) work period" a fire fighter is due FLSA overtime pay only if, when and to the extent actual hours worked exceed 212 in the 28 day work period. Permissible work periods may be from 7 to 28 days, and the FLSA overtime thresholds applicable to particular work periods are set out in a chart published in the FLSA regulations. 29 CFR §553.230.
A government employer may choose to use a 40 hour work week or a 7(k) system at its option, and may use a 7(k) system for FLSA compliance purposes even if it actually pays its employees on the basis of 40 hour work weeks. To use a 7(k) system for FLSA purposes requires only that the employer establish such a system (for example, by issuing a policy statement to that effect), and that the affected employees actually work on a schedule which repeats and recurs on some multiple of between 7 and 28 days. Which particular 7(k) threshold applies depends mostly on what the employees' schedule is. For 7(k) systems, pay computations mostly follow the regular FLSA rules, with the "work period" being substituted for the normal "work week."
Alternative 7(k) work period systems are not available to private sector (non-government) employers, which (with the exception of medical care personnel) must pay nonexempt employees based on 40 hour work weeks. For government employers, 7(k) systems are available for "sworn" fire fighters (even if their primary work is medical) or police officers. In some unusual situations "non-sworn" EMS employees may possibly qualify for 7(k) "law enforcement" pay plans.