This will require some background. I am an hourly contractor working on an HRIS migration for a small company. When I interviewed, I told the the VP and my eventual boss that the timeline was unrealistic without a bunch of overtime worked for what they were attempting. I was brought on to do the job and over the next few weeks continually stressed that I would need more time than 40 hours per week to finish but they were unwilling to pay any overtime. Three weeks prior to my go live, I had another conversation with my boss where I stated that I had 200 hours worth of work in 120 hours worth of time that they were willing to pay. He proposed that if I could get the work done in time, that he would 'take care of me' by giving me some time off after go live. I agreed.

Fast forward, go live went great for my development aspects. I was asked to continue working on additional projects and was not very concerned about the six days of comp time from my work prior to going live. Until last Thursday that is. My manager brought me in and explained that even though they were pleased with my work, they did not have the money to continue paying me after September. I was pretty shocked as my integration work was well received across the organization and fully expected to be offered a permanent position. After getting over my shock and updating my resume, I decided to cover my bases with the days off that were promised. I emailed my boss and asked about the time off. He was good enough to respond and mention the comp time. I forwarded that email to my home account just to be safe. He asked for a face-to-face meeting to discuss further.

I met with my boss and decided it would be a good idea to record the conversation (legal in my state in the US as long as one person knows it is happening). He recalled the conversation in which he promised the days off and we even came up with a plan for this time off to occur over the next month where I would act like I am 'working from home'. This is all a little shady to me but at this point with only one month to go, I really only care about what was promised me which leads to my question. Is there anything else I can do to further protect myself from this guy potentially trying to not give me my comp time off?

Please note that I am not necessarily worried about missed overtime money as my contract agency does not pay anything additional. Also note that my intent with the steps I have taken to this point is in no way to blackmail him into giving me my time off but if push comes to shove I would send the information to the department of labor and make a complaint against the company.

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    I think the 'banked' hours you are referring to would more commonly be known as comp time in the USA. Verbal only comp time is almost impossible to enforce, or complain about, but it seems you covered your ass by recording him. Be sure the laws involving recording conversations apply to private property as well, as it may differ from recording convo's in a public place.
    – GOATNine
    Commented Aug 30, 2018 at 15:52

3 Answers 3


In the future, DO NOT WORK OFF THE CLOCK. This is illegal for your employer in the United States, other areas may vary. As an hourly employee you are entitled to be paid for every hour you work. Period.

The company also opened themselves up to potential wage theft claim by you. It was not a good move by your boss either.

While this may be 'common', it is not legal or ethical.

Now, this is not true for salaried/exempt employees and giving 'comp time' is fairly typical in that case.

Edited to clarify only employer is breaking the law: Section 29, part 785 of the code of fedaral regulations defines work and how it should be compensated.

Notes from Part 785 that may apply.

The United States Supreme Court originally stated that employees subject to the act must be paid for all time spent in “physical or mental exertion (whether burdensome or not) controlled or required by the employer and pursued necessarily and primarily for the benefit of the employer and his business.” Section 785.7

In all such cases it is the duty of the management to exercise its control and see that the work is not performed if it does not want it to be performed. It cannot sit back and accept the benefits without compensating for them. The mere promulgation of a rule against such work is not enough. Management has the power to enforce the rule and must make every effort to do so. Section 785.13

It's a long boring government document, so maybe the employee could not be held accountable for not reporting time, but the company certainly is breaking the law here and the OP would have a pretty solid case to be compensated if he has documentation of the hours worked. Exempt status only applies to exempt from overtime rules, not exempt from being paid.


"[...]he promised the days off and we even came up with a plan for this time off to occur over the next month [...]"

This sounds like he basically agreed to paid holiday for the banked overtime.

Your contract will expire after september

"[...] they did not have the money to continue paying me after September[...]

and the last payment should include your 6 days "holiday" accumulated from overtime.

I don't see anything shady or unusual with this. In fact it is quite common.

The only potential source for problems is that there is a third party involved (your contract agency) and how the company you worked at are going to declare these days off ("you 'working' from home").

Without knowing who has what kinds of contracts with whom in this triangle, it is hard to get further into details and potential pitfalls.

Legal advice would be prudent if you want to be very sure.


Normally if you are paid hourly you fill out a worksheet at the end of each week where you state how many hours you worked each day, and then you are paid for each hour you worked.

There might be a situation, where say you need to work 60 hours a week for three months to deliver in time, and the responsible manager at the company can only pay you 40 hours a week (doesn't have permission to pay overtime), but can pay you for 4 1/2 months without problems (does have permission to pay as long as the project lasts).

In that case things would be slightly dodgy, but you could agree to send him one worksheet with the hours worked, and a worksheet with 40 hours a week worked, with a binding agreement that you will stay hired until all your hours are paid. So you would get paid another six or seven weeks at 40 hours a week without actually working, until you are paid correctly for each hour worked.

You'd have to be careful how to write this exactly in a contract, but it would have to be in a written contract to avoid you being taken advantage of.

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