There seem to be exceptions to every rule, including rules regarding whether or not an employer can give comp time instead of overtime pay to employees. County and state officials around the country sometimes have difficulty keeping up with federal standards and guidelines regarding who is eligible for or exempt from overtime pay. Employers who get it wrong may pay dearly in wage-theft lawsuits. Employees may do their own research to ascertain their rights, eligibility or possible exemptions.
Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
The FLSA establishes federal laws regarding minimum wage, overtime pay, child labor, and record keeping for employees in the private sector as well as in federal, state, and local governments. The FLSA states, “…employees must receive overtime pay for hours worked over 40 per workweek (any fixed and regularly recurring period of 168 hours — seven consecutive 24-hour periods) at a rate not less than one and one-half times the regular rate of pay.”
Comp time is time off for extra hours worked. For example, if an employee works 42 hours one week, instead of receiving overtime for two hours, he would only have to work 38 hours the following week. He would be paid for 40 hours of work for each week. Offering employees comp time in place of overtime pay is illegal.
Comp time is illegal unless the employee is exempt from FLSA protections. The list of exempt employees is surprisingly long. The issue is complicated enough that the Randolph County Board of Commissioners chose to put off a discussion clarifying who is and who is not protected by the FLSA. A county employee’s handbook was due to be published in the beginning of January 2014, a seemingly unlikely possibility if they are unable to weed their way through the intricacies of which workers must be paid overtime and who is exempt.
Some of the employees who are not covered by FLSA overtime pay requirements include, but are not limited to:
- Teachers and academic administrative professionals in primary and secondary schools;
- Employees engaged in fishing operations;
- Employees of certain small newspapers;
- Certain skilled computer professionals;
- Employees of motion picture theaters;
- Employees of certain seasonal amusement or recreational establishments;
- Railroad and air carrier employees; and
- Taxi drivers.
Read your employee handbook, and check on the Department of Labor website to find answers regarding your own status regarding FLSA overtime pay.
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