The question of whether certain times away from work are paid time off or not comes to us frequently from readers. Here’s a quick run-down of compensatory time off…
Compensatory Time Off
Compensatory time off is:
- time off with pay in lieu of overtime pay for irregular or occasional overtime work, or
- when permitted under agency flexible work schedule programs, time off with pay in lieu of overtime pay for regularly scheduled or irregular or occasional overtime work.
Compensatory time off may be approved in lieu of overtime pay for irregular or occasional overtime work for both FLSA exempt and nonexempt employees. Compensatory time off can also be approved for a prevailing rate employee, but there is no authority to require that any prevailing rate (wage) employee be compensated for irregular or occasional overtime work by granting compensatory time off.
Agencies may require that an FLSA exempt employee receive compensatory time off in lieu of overtime pay for irregular or occasional overtime work, but only for an FLSA exempt employee whose rate of basic pay is above the rate for GS-10, step 10. No mandatory compensatory time off is permitted for wage employees or in lieu of FLSA overtime pay.
Regularly Scheduled Overtime
Compensatory time off may be approved (not required) in lieu of regularly scheduled overtime work only for employees, including wage employees, who are ordered to work overtime hours under flexible work schedules.
An agency may set time limits for an FLSA exempt or nonexempt employee to take compensatory time off. An agency may provide that an FLSA exempt employee who earns compensatory time off will lose entitlement to compensatory time off and overtime pay if it is not used within agency time limits, unless the failure was due to an exigency of the service beyond the employee’s control. If compensatory time off is not taken by an FLSA nonexempt employee within agency time limits, an agency must pay the employee for overtime work at the overtime rate in effect during the pay period in which the overtime work was completed.
One hour of compensatory time off is granted for each hour of overtime work.
Be aware that under the Federal Workforce Flexibility Act of 2004, Federal employees who must travel for business outside normal working hours will receive compensatory time off for their travel time, if the travel time is not otherwise compensable.