No Comp Time Allowed

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about exempt classification:

I work for a social service agency and do not know if I would be considered exempt. Our official company policy is that employees can accrue comp time, record it on their time sheets and take the time, as the company does not pay overtime. However, my office or branch has now instituted a policy that no comp time can be recorded on our time sheet and thus cannot be taken. Instead, the time worked overtime can be taken by coming in late one day or leaving early. We are very confused about this policy. If we take that time, then our supervisors can simply accuse us of cheating on time, as we have no record that we accrued overtime hours (which used to be on the time sheet). If we are not exempt, are working overtime, and are not paid overtime rates, are we not entitled to comp time? In addition, when we work through lunch (eating at our desk or in five minutes) as we have deadlines to meet or lunchtime meetings, we are not allowed to put this time down as comp time either. We essentially lose this time. Please advise.in

Signed, Baffled

Dear Baffled:

Please refer to the Fair Labor & Standards Act (FLSA). Exempt means that you are typically not paid overtime whereas Non-exempt is paid overtime and employees must be paid overtime. The issue is whether your work is primarily managerial or clerical. Normally, whichever is greater in time spent at work decides which you are. You don’t say if you are paid a salary, which would make your question moot as salary also includes overtime. If you are paid hourly, then you are entitled to overtime pay. This is a question that can only be determined by the New York (if that’s where you work) Dept. of Labor and make the inquiry of them. They should be able to give you a definitive ruling.

Dan P. Kearney, Guest Respondent