My Current State: 

Maine Comp Time

Posted by Tamara

Employees in Maine and elsewhere in the country are entitled to overtime pay when they work more than 50 hours a week.

Except in some very specific circumstances, employers may not grant “comp time” instead of overtime pay to hourly workers.

“Comp time,” for those who may not know, is paid time off that is granted in place of paid overtime. Government agencies may grant “comp time,” and so may non-profit organizations.

However, private companies must abide by the Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA. The federal law states that hourly employees must be paid at overtime rates when they work in excess of 40 hours in a payroll week. The employer is legally barred from granting a worker time off during a different payroll week rather than paying overtime. The employer may not average a worker’s hours over two payroll weeks either, even if the two weeks fall within the same payroll period.

In answer to the Maine employer who wrote, “Can I grant comp time to workers instead of paying overtime?” the answer, then, would be “No.”

The same answer applies to the Maine employee in another part of the state who wrote to ask this question:

“I was just recently hired in an hourly job. My new employer very graciously agreed to give me two weeks of unpaid vacation, to take a long-planned trip. I’d like to work extra hours the week before and after, to make up the lost wages. Can I do this without being paid overtime?”

When an hourly employee works, for example, 50 hours in a payroll week, she or he must receive 40 hours at the regular pay rate and 10 hours of overtime. Overtime is always set at 1½ times a worker’s average pay rate during a specific payroll week.

Tom, for example, works in a commercial bakery. His employer pays him every two weeks. In the first week he works 50 hours. His employer wants him to work just 25 hours in the following week, and average the pay out at 40 hours a week to avoid paying overtime. This would not be legal. 




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