Posted by Tamara
Private employers in Arkansas cannot grant comp time to hourly employees instead of paying overtime. It is prohibited by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act or FLSA.
Comp time is the popular term for compensatory time off granted in a “future payroll week” in lieu of overtime pay.
There are exceptions. A few states have passed laws allowing comp time if an employer does not fall under the federal overtime law. Government employees, particularly firefighters and law enforcement personnel, may be given comp time in place of overtime pay.
The definition above refers to a “future payroll week.” If an employer grants time off in the same payroll week, it is not comp time. As a hypothetical example, “Carl” works 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. On Wednesday, a looming deadline requires him to work from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., or four hours more than he normally would on any given day. His employer decides to direct him to leave four hours early on Thursday. By the end of the week he has worked only 40 hours. He does not get overtime pay. He gets a flat hour-for-hour exchange.
“Grace,” by comparison, is a city police officer, and her department is allowed to use comp time to avoid paying her overtime. This week she worked 45 hours, or five hours over the normal work week. In a future week, convenient to both her and the police force, she will get 7.5 hours off. She receives that amount of time because, according to overtime laws, an employee must receive 1.5 times the normal pay rate for any hours over 40. The same rule applies to comp time, and consequently she works only 32.5 hours in the future payroll week. If Grace worked as a private security guard she would have been entitled to overtime pay.
Generous employers sometimes grant something like comp time to exempt employees – those who are not entitled to overtime pay. “Bettina,” for example, normally works 45 hours a week, but this week she works 55. Her employer gives her 10 hours of “comp time” in a future payroll week.
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