Q&A: Can Non-exempt Employees Get Comp Time?

Comp time vs. overtime pay

Could you address the “comp time” issue? This seems to be a huge misunderstanding in church circles. My understanding of the Fair Labor Standards Act is that there is no comp time in lieu of overtime pay for non-exempt employees. Overtime is after 40 hours in one work week and you can’t comp it at 1-1/2 hours time off? Is this right?
You are correct. Private employers, such as churches and not-for-profit ministries, cannot offer compensatory time to non-exempt employees in lieu of overtime. Comp time is often defined as substituting overtime with time off work.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) does allow employees to rearrange hours worked within the same workweek (not pay period) to avoid overtime. However, employees cannot substitute paid time off for the time worked over 40 hours to use in another week.
The FLSA requires employers pay non-exempt employees overtime compensation for all time worked in excess of 40 hours within any workweek.
Here is a common scenario that demonstrates how this works: First Church of Lansing pays employees every other week. Kim, the church secretary, works 44 hours one week and 36 the next week. In this scenario, the employer must pay Kim four hours overtime for the first week. Even though Kim worked 80 hours in the pay period, she still worked 44 hours in one week and therefore must receive overtime compensation.
Some states have additional wage and hour restrictions, such as requiring overtime when an employee works more than eight hours a day, that apply. So make sure you talk to a local attorney to confirm how overtime must be administered in your state.

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