Monday, March 26, 2007

"Comp Time" Confusion.

There appears to be a lot of confusion out there about compensatory time ("comp time"). Many private employers seem to be under the impression that their non-exempt, hourly employees can be allowed to accumulate and use comp time (e.g., time off at a later date) in lieu of overtime wages. Such a practice is not permitted under the Fair Labor Standards Act (the "FLSA") since it results in the employee forfeiting the FLSA overtime premium for work performed in excess of 40 hours in a workweek (commonly known as "time-and-a-half") in exchange for time off calculated at the employee's regular wage rate. Only public sector employers such as a government agency, police or fire department, etc., may provide compensatory time to employees. See 29 U.S.C. Sec. 207(o), et seq. for more on this. Note that comp time is concerned with overtime involving non-exempt, hourly employees. It does not apply to those who are exempt from the FLSA's overtime provisions (e.g., those in certain executive, administrative, professional and other categories defined by the statute).

Comp time should not be confused with "flex-time," which is a different animal altogether. In a flex-time scenario, a private employer may properly establish flexible work schedules for its non-exempt, hourly employees within the context of a 40-hour workweek without violating the FLSA since no overtime is worked under such an arrangement. One caveat about flex-time - if your State has a daily overtime standard requiring payment of overtime in excess of a certain number of hours per day, flex-time schedules may have to be altered accordingly.

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