Comprehending Comp Time

Weekly HR News –Leaves of Absence

Comprehending Comp Time

With winter weather looming, along with the extra work it brings, many city employees will be working longer than normal schedules.  The question then becomes whether or not a city can allow its employees to earn compensatory time, also known as comp time.

In years past, compensatory time was only an option for counties.  Then in 2009, KRS 337.285 was amended to permit cities and their nonexempt city employees to agree on the earning of compensatory time in lieu of overtime pay.  

The statute does set some guidelines for the allowance of comp time:  

- It only applies to non-exempt (hourly) employees; however, employers can provide comp time as a fringe benefit to exempt employees through policy and it would not have to follow this statute.  

- The request to accrue compensatory time must be made in writing, freely and without pressure or suggestion by the employer, before performance of the work.  

- If authorized in writing by the employer, an employee may accrue compensatory time in lieu of overtime pay at the rate of not less than one and one half hours for each hour the employee is authorized to work in excess of 40 hours in a work week. 

- The maximum number of compensatory hours that may be accrued is 480 for city employees engaged in a public safety, emergency response or seasonal activity.  For employees engaged in all other work, 240 hours are allowed.  Any hours over these maximums must be paid to the employee in overtime compensation at the regular rate earned by the employee at the time the employee receives the payment.  In addition, a city can set the maximum accrual hours at less than the statutory maximums.

- A city employee who requests the use of compensatory time must be allowed to use the compensatory time within a reasonable period after making the request, if use of the compensatory time does not unduly disrupt operations of the employer. Mere inconvenience to the employer is not a sufficient basis for denial.  

- An employer cannot use compensatory time as a means to avoid statutory overtime compensation. Therefore, an employer cannot pressure an employee to accept more compensatory time than the employer can realistically expect to be able to grant within a reasonable period. 

- Upon termination of employment, all unused accrued compensatory time earned by nonexempt employees must be paid at a rate of compensation not less than the average rate received by the employee during the last three years or the final regular rate received by the employee, whichever is higher. 

For additional questions regarding comp time for exempt and nonexempt employees or for sample policies or the required agreement, contact personnel services specialist, Andrea Shindlebower Main, at ashindlebower@klc.org

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