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Kelly Days

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  • Kelly Days

    Hi All,

    I am a new member here and have a question to post to the list. I would like any policies, procedures, and/or memos regarding the origin and use of "kelly" days. I work for a public safety agency where we do all three aspects; fire, police, and EMS. I am currently in the Northwestern Traffic Institute's School of Staff & Command and I am doing a study based upon the FLSA rulings in regards to kelly days and overtime.

    Thanks in advance for anyone providing me with information. You can send it to me at: [email protected].

    Thanks and stay safe,


  • #2
    From this site: http://www.riotacts.com/fire/QA.html

    Some departments have "Kelly Days". What is that and where did the term come from?

    Labor laws establish how many hours a worker can work, in a given period, before the employer is required to pay overtime. For firefighters this amount is set at 53 hours a week. This does not mean that a firefighter gets overtime pay the instant he or she works over 53 hours in a week. For a 24/48 schedule this would amount to 19 hours of OT every third week because on two weeks the firefighter would work 48 hours but on the third it would be 72. This amount can be an average of hours in a set time period. But even this would an be average of 56 hours a week. Something must be done to avoid paying that 3 hours a week overtime. (Although some departments do just pay it.) Many departments use a four week pay period. As long as the firefighter does not average over 53 hours a week, in that period, the employer is within the law.

    Confused yet?

    What usually occurs is that over a four week period about 12 hours of time is accrued. That is then matched with 12 hours of vacation or a holiday for a complete shift off. This amounts to getting about every 9th shift off. But this is not always the case. Some departments may choose a different schedule. In some departments, the union negotiates a contract that includes certain days off. For whatever reason, this is just a predictable time off from your regular shift.

    Where did the name come from? This is a question I get often.

    One "legend" is that there once was a worker who always took off (sick?) a particular day. Perhaps this was the Monday after he was paid for the month. Or it could have been based upon some other regular, predictable, event. The legend then goes on to suggest that this person's name WAS "Kelly". From that, the term was applied to a day off taken. "I'm taking a day off like Kelly." became "I am taking a Kelly day." Other legends have the chief who invented it named Kelly. Members of several departments have contacted me and proclaimed that it was in their city that the term was born. One has it named for a chief who "invented" it. Another says it was named for a mayor. I have had one person say that it went back to a specific person, named Kelly, in Ireland. I get more emails about this than just about any other subject.

    The most insistent group are those who claim that it is named for a Chicago Mayor, Edward Kelly. Mayor Kelly was the son of a Chicago firefighter. The CFD had endured many hardships due to the depression and the bad blood between unions and business. Around 1936 Mayor kelly changed the firefighter's schedule to give them an extra day off. Mayor Kelly was so loved by the fire department for this and other improvements to wages and benefits that he was named an honorary firefighter. To read more about the history of the CFD, I strongly recommend this site. http://www.affi-iaff.org/history2.html

    Some departments who use Kelly Days:
    Do it because you love it, not because you love being seen doing it.


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