Many people probably are not aware of the differences between federal and state overtime, time-and-a-half, straight time, compensatory (comp) time, or exempt and non-exempt employees. However, understanding these terms can impact your work life. This is a summary of overtime law, and contains definitions to explain some of the terms used in this summary.
What is overtime?
You earn overtime when you work more than 40 hours in a work week. Whether you are compensated (receive comp time or pay) for working overtime depends on whether you are exempt or non-exempt under federal law. Your supervisor can tell you whether your position is exempt or nonexempt. If you are eligible to be compensated, you can be granted compensatory time, or you can be paid for the time. The A&M System's practice is to grant comp time in most situations.
If you are nonexempt, you earn federal overtime whenever you work more than 40 hours in a work week. Paid leave or holidays taken during a workweek are not counted as hours worked when determining federal comp time.
Under certain circumstances and at your department head's option, you may be paid for overtime at a rate of one and a half times your hourly rate instead of receiving comp time. Your supervisor may adjust your hours in a workweek if you are on track to accumulate overtime (for example, if you work more than eight hours one day, your supervisor may require you to work fewer hours another day during the same workweek to avoid overtime).
You may accumulate up to 240 hours of federal comp time and keep it indefinitely; this amount represents 160 hours worked at time-and-a-half. If you work in a public safety, emergency response or seasonal job, you may accumulate up to 480 hours (320 hours worked at time-and-a-half). You will be paid for any overtime that exceeds these limits. The Texas A&M System regulation is that Federal Comp Time should be paid for after it has been in the employee's comp bank for 12 months. This is paid at the time-and-a-half rate and is based on either the employee's salary at the time of payment or the average of the last three years' salaries, whichever is higher.
You keep your rights to accumulated federal comp time until you use the time or are paid for it. When you leave employment, you will be paid for remaining federal comp time or, with your supervisor's approval, you may remain on the payroll to use it up.
If you are non-exempt and you work no more than 40 hours in a workweek but your work time plus paid leave or University holidays total more than 40, you will receive state comp time for the hours that exceed 40 in the workweek. This is straight time compensation where you will receive one hour of state comp time for each hour of paid time in excess of 40.
Let's say you work only 36 hours one week, but you also took eight hours of sick leave that week. Even though you reported 44 hours on your time sheet, you worked only 36 of those. This means you will earn four hours of state comp time (36 hours worked plus eight hours of sick leave minus 40 hours in a workweek).
Whether you are exempt or non-exempt, you are eligible for state comp time if you are required to work on a University holiday (excluding "emergency" days).
Non-exempt employees may not earn state comp time for time worked at home. Exempt employees will earn state comp time for hours worked from home on University holidays (excluding “emergency” days).
You must use state comp time within 12 months of the end of the workweek in which it was earned. If you do not use it within this period, you will lose it.
State law prohibits payment for state comp time at termination of employment. However, under A&M System policy, you may remain on the payroll to use up your state comp time.
Using Compensatory Time
You must have your supervisor's permission before using your accrued federal or state comp time. In most cases, supervisors will allow you to use your comp time when you wish. However, use of time off may be denied at times when your absence would disrupt critical functions of your department. Your supervisor may require you to use accrued federal comp time even if you have not requested time off and may also require that you use accrued federal comp time before using vacation.
If you request use of state comp time at least 90 days before it expires, your supervisor must either approve your request or suggest an alternate time you may take it. If you request use of state comp time less than 90 days before it expires, your supervisor must make every effort to accommodate your use of the time, but is not required to allow you to use it if your absence would disrupt critical functions.
For More Information
If you have questions about federal or state comp time, ask your supervisor for more details or contact Human Resources Department Classification & Compensation Office at (979) 845-4170. You'll also find information about comp time in two of System Human Resources' online training programs. The programs, "Comp Time Issues for Employees" and "Comp Time Issues for Supervisors", can be accessed at Single Sign-On (click on "TrainTraq").
- Federal overtime:
- You have worked overtime under federal law when you work more than 40 hours in a workweek.
- State overtime:
- You have worked overtime under state law when your hours worked plus paid leave and holidays total more than 40 hours in a workweek.
- Time-and-a-half comp time:
- Comp time awarded for working federal overtime. Eligible employees receive one-and-a-half hours of comp time for each overtime hour worked.
- Straight-time comp time:
- Comp time awarded for working state overtime. Eligible employees receive one hour of comp time for each overtime hour worked.
- Non-exempt employees:
- Those not exempt from federal overtime laws. Non-exempt employees are eligible to be compensated for federal and state overtime. Non-exempt employees are required to submit timesheets documenting actual time worked and must have their supervisors' permission before working overtime.
- Exempt employees:
- Those exempt from federal overtime laws. Exempt employees are not compensated for federal overtime and may be compensated for state overtime only in limited circumstances. Most exempt employees do not fill out timesheets and can work more than 40 hours without a supervisor's permission.
- If you are paid biweekly, your workweek is generally Thursday through Wednesday. If you are paid monthly, your workweek is Monday through Sunday.