My Current State: 

Maryland Comp Time

Posted by Tamara

Maryland employers and hourly workers both want to know if “comp time” can be granted in place of overtime pay. “Comp time,” incidentally, is paid time off in lieu of overtime.

The answer to the question is “No,” under almost all circumstances.

For example, a Maryland employee wrote to say “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?”

In another part of the state, an employer wrote, “Can I grant comp time to workers instead of paying overtime?”

In both cases, the move would be illegal.

According to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA, hourly workers must receive the overtime rate when they put in more than 40 hours in a payroll week. The employer is prohibited from granting the worker time off during a different payroll week instead of granting overtime pay. The employer cannot average an employee’s hours over two payroll weeks, even if the weeks both fall in the same pay period.

When an employee works, say, 50 hours in a payroll week, he or she must be paid in the following way: 40 hours of regular time and 10 hours of overtime. The overtime is always calculated at 1.5 times the worker’s average pay rate for the payroll week. Dan works 50 hours in the first week of the payroll period. His employer pays every two weeks. Next week, Dan works 25 hours and takes 15 hours of comp time. This would be illegal.

An employee may legally take time off during the same payroll week – and the employer can require an employee to do so.  This is a common and entirely lawful method of reducing overtime costs. If an employee works five extra hours on Monday, she or he may legally be sent home five hours early on Tuesday. This is provided, of course, that Tuesday falls within the same payroll week.


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