Is it legal for your manager to remove your overtime and tell you to comp the time?

UPDATED: Mar 21, 2012

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Is it legal for your manager to remove your overtime and tell you to comp the time?

Asked on March 21, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Oklahoma


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If you are eligible for overtime--that is, you are a "nonexempt" employee (nonexempt from overtime)--then, except as below, you *must* be paid overtime when you work more than 40 hours in a week. Nonexempt employees who work overtime must be paid at overtime rates; it is illegal to provide comp time instead (though nothing stops a company from rewarding you for going above and beyond the call of duty by providing comp time in addition to whatever overtime the law requires).

Essentially all hourly employees, with a very few industry- or job-specific exceptions (like retail store floor sales staff who earn commissions as well as an hourly rate) are nonexempt and are eligible for overtime. Many salaried staff are nonexempt, too, unless they meet one of the specific tests to be exempt, such as being an executive (managerial) employee, a high-level administrator, or a professional. You can find these tests at the Department of Labor Website.

If you are an exempt employee, then, of course, the company does not need to offer you either overtime or comp time--it is voluntary if it does.

If you work for the government, it is sometimes possible, if there is a written agreement (e.g. a union contract) in place, to offer comp time instead of  overtime--that's the main exception to the requirement to pay hourly staff overtime.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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