My Current State: 

Maine Exempt Employee Comp Time

Posted by Tamara

According to the FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act), salaried employees can be classified as exempt (ineligible for overtime pay) or non-exempt (entitled to overtime pay). This classification depends on the employee’s primary duties. FLSA categorizes salaried exempt employees into five groups: Computer Pros, Administrators, Professionals, Executives and Outside Salespeople.

Several Maine employees who are classified exempt assume they are entitled to comp time (compensatory paid time off) when they work more than 40 hours in one week.

This assumption is incorrect. Maine employers are allowed to grant comp time to exempt employees who put in more than 40 hours a week, but they are not legally required to do so.

In fact, under both federal and Maine laws, employers can require salaried exempt employees to work any amount of hours per week they deem necessary. If the company requires its exempt employees to work 80 hours a week, that employer is not violating any law. In fact, the employer can terminate any employee who doesn’t work the required number of hours.

Though exempt employees receive the same salary for working 80 hours in a week as for 40 hours, they also receive the same pay if they work less than 40 hours. In fact, the FLSA (with some exceptions under FMLA and ADA) mandates that exempt employees earn the same salary every week, no matter how many hours they work.

Another mandate is an exempt employee must earn at least $455 per week. If the employee’s earnings drop below that amount, he or she is automatically classified as non-exempt and therefore entitled to overtime pay.

Once an employee is reclassified as non-exempt, he or she must receive overtime pay for working more than 40 hours in one week. It is illegal for Maine employers to grant comp time to non-exempt employees instead of paying overtime. Some government agencies are allowed to substitute comp time for overtime, but private employers are not.

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