FLSA Comp Time and FLSA Guidelines
Employers may try to avoid the topic of overtime where the employees want to take the maximum advantage from it. It can be misconstrued and misunderstood so both the employer and the employee must take the time to understand and gather all the necessary information about overtime laws. One can find detailed information available through the U.S. Department of Labors (DOL) and as is defined under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
According to FLSA guidelines overtime is due when a contracted, nonexempt employee works over 40 hours in a given workweek. A workweek is defined as a fixed and regularly recurring period of seven 24-hour days, 168 hours total.
Employees who are exempt from receiving overtime pay, are employees that according to FLSA definitions fall in the category of administrative, executive, professional, computer employee or outside sales and are commonly known as FLSA exempt employees. Their job duties fall within the FLSA guidelines and their salaries must not be less than $455/week. There are other exemptions as well and complete information is available on the DOL website. The overtime rate of pay should not be less than one and a half times the applicable rate of pay. For employees who are paid at multiple pay rates, the DOL website has a guide that helps explain which rate of pay is applicable to the overtime premium.
Records for every employee's wages rate, hours worked, and conditions of employmentmust be maintained on a regular basis . If any company, no matter large or how small, will be found violating this act, the DOL can and will sue to protect the employees and recover lost wages. The fines and back-pay may run into millions depending up on the size of the company, so the employer should make sure that they understand the FLSA overtime rules properly, thereby avoiding their companies getting into trouble.
Different States have their own set of overtime rules and in the event the rules are not the same, the employee is entitled to the overtime at the higher standard or rate of pay. An employee should check with the State Department of Labor to make sure that they are in compliance with the rules and regulations as well as the federal regulations.
Many employers try to establish a rule that their company will not allow any overtime work or pay for any overtime unless they have authorized it in advance.
However, if an employee stays late at work in order to finish a project or an assignment that is required urgently on the next day, according to the FLSA your employer must pay you for your overtime at your overtime rate - even though they did not approve your overtime in advance. Another way employers may try to get away with not paying overtime is by giving a non-exempt employee "comp time," (compensatory time), in lieu of paying them the time-and-a-half overtime wages that are due them.
Comp time may, indeed, be legal according to FLSA comp time. However, it always has to be paid at the similar rate of overtime wages.