Posted by Tamara
The laws regarding compensatory time off, otherwise known as “comp time,” are a knot of complexities that often results in many questions from Idaho employees.
There are issues of just when comp time is legal, who may receive it, and what its actual definition is.
To define comp time first, it is time off that an employer gives an hourly worker in a future payroll week rather than paying overtime rates for hours worked above 40.
Not the emphasis on “a future payroll.” Private employers cannot give comp time to workers rather than giving them overtime.
They may, however, require an employee to take time off during the same work week. This is not comp time.
For example, employee Juan has a normal work schedule of 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. This week, Juan works until 7 p.m. on Wednesday, already putting him potentially 4 hours in excess of his normal week. Juan’s employer directs him to take 4 hours off on Thursday, so that he doesn’t accumulate overtime by the end of the week. Because it has happened in the same week, it is not technically comp time.
“Tabitha,” however, is a city police officer, and in many cases comp time is legal for government employees, particularly police officers and firefighters. Tabitha works 45 hours this week. So instead of getting overtime, she receives 7.5 hours of comp time. Note that it is not five hours. Had she received overtime pay it would have been granted at 1.5 times her normal hourly rate. Tabitha may use the time in a future payroll week that is convenient for her and the department. She will work 32.5 hours in that future payroll week.
Some employers have adopted the generous practice of granting comp time to exempt employees, those not entitled to overtime. Assuming “Bettina,” an exempt employee, normally works 45 hours a week, this week she has worked 55 hours. In a future payroll week, she gets 10 hours of “comp time,” working 35 hours. Note that, because she is an exempt employee, she does not get any added time.
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