As a new employee to the work force, how would I interpret this policy:

Comp-time, or time off in a future workweek to make up for extra time worked in the current workweek, is not acceptable for hourly (non-exempt) staff. Employees should be compensated for all time worked during the workweek in which it was worked.

When I first started working, my schedule was to have two days off per week. I was asked to work one of my regularly scheduled days off, so I ended up working a total of 48 hours that week. I was under the impression that while I would not be paid for the extra 8 hours, they would count as Compensatory Time, and I would be able to use that at a later date.

The following week, I requested a day off as my "comp time from last week." However, my boss told me "we are exempt employees and do not get comp time." He referenced the policy shown above.

In the end, my boss was cool and gave it to me anyway (he chalked it up to 'he is new here').

My questions are:
What does the above policy actually mean?
What does it mean to be an exempt employee? How about non-exempt?

closed as off-topic by Telastyn, Jim G., Justin Cave, Adam V, gnat Nov 3 '14 at 22:02

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  • 3
    It appears as though that policy only applies to hourly employees. That said, this question is offtopic since it's pretty specific to your company and unlikely to help others. – Telastyn Nov 3 '14 at 19:11
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    While my question pertains to my company policy, I think there are many companies with similar policies and so I would think this question is not too localised... – matt Nov 3 '14 at 19:34
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    "... can I work 40hrs M-TH and take Friday off?" -- With your manager's permission, you can do darned near anything by calling it flex time rather than comp time. Without your manager's permission, probably not. – keshlam Nov 3 '14 at 21:53
  • I found this question as a link from another... I disagree with the closure of this question. While it may be the policy of this company, it is also the policy of many companies, and, in fact, if I recall correctly, (US) federal law. This is not specific to one company and is a facet misunderstood by many employees, both new to the work force, as well as newly exempt. – CGCampbell Aug 18 '15 at 18:50
up vote 6 down vote accepted

My question is what does the above policy actually mean?

The policy speaks only about non-exempt (hourly) employees. You have indicated that you are exempt. Thus, the above policy does not apply to you.

The policy is indicating that non-exempt employees must be paid for all of the hours they work in the week in which they work those hours. If a non-exempt employee worked 48 hours, they would presumably be paid for 40 hours of regular pay, plus 8 hours of overtime.

The policy is indicating that managers are not allowed to pay the non-exempt employee 40 hours, and give them 8 hours off another time as "comp time".

When your boss said 'we are exempt employees and do not get comp time', he was basically telling you that (like many salaried professionals), you will periodically be expected to work extra hours, and will not normally be compensated at all - not with overtime, and not with comp time.

He still may choose to deal with the situation in an unofficial manner (as he did with you this first time).

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    simple and concise answer, thanks! and yes, I'm shooting for the unofficial response as this is not going to be a regular thing – matt Nov 3 '14 at 20:27

Exempt is HR-speak for salaried. You get paid a set amount each week and are exempt from overtime. As a result, you don't get compensatory (comp) time because you're not hourly (i.e. non-exempt). Usually you can use exempt and salaried interchangeably as well as non-exempt and hourly.

  • This makes perfect sense (and explains what exempt really means). However, with that last sentence in the policy (employees should be compensated in the week worked...), does this mean that so long as I work 40hrs it doesnt matter (policy-wise) which days I actually work? – matt Nov 3 '14 at 19:37
  • But it also means theoretically that you're also exempt from working a full 40 hours if you don't have 40 hours of stuff to do. In practice, you are still required to work 40, and check with your boss to work less than 40 to compensate for an over 40 week. – Telastyn Nov 3 '14 at 19:43
  • The last line applies only to non-exempt (hourly) employees. They're basically saying that if an hourly employee worked 10 hours in one day, the extra 2 hours must be compensated for that week and not carry over. There are numerous reasons for this but that discussion is out of the scope of comments. As far as when you have to work, that's going to be up to your boss most likely, even if there's not a specific policy. Trust me, it almost always matters which days you work. – Chris E Nov 3 '14 at 19:45
  • @telastyn, ha I really like that but somehow don't think that will fly with the boss... /chris, after rereading the policy, I see how it seems the entire bullet is for non-exempt employees altogether... – matt Nov 3 '14 at 19:58
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    Exempt vs nonexempt is not HR speak, at least in the US it is defined by federal law. – Andy Nov 10 '14 at 2:20

I expect you would need to discuss this with your boss. Policies vary by company.

In general offical comp time is rarely given by any company large enough to have an HR because they may have a legal obligation to pay you for those hours if you don't take them (at least that is true in the state where I live). That money is not in the budget and thus they are not happy about paying it out.

However unofficial comptime is rampant. Most places I have worked, they are ok with you finshing the week any time after the 40 hours are worked as long as you are not leaving something hanging.

However, they for the most part would object to you working 10 hour days every day in order to get Fridays off every week as that is a benefit not offerered to everyone (as some people must be in on Friday) and people will notice and complain. It also may depend on if there is a genuine need for you to be there on Fridays. I do production support as well as database development, so taking every Friday off even if I had worked those hours is clearly a bad idea. If the team might need your input on Fridays, your boss may not be in favor of you taking every one off because you put in the hours earlier in the week. This is no longer comptime but changing the work schedule which may or may not be allowed.

Some companies don't allow salaried employeed any comp time (and hourly employees are supposed to get overtime not comp time which is a higher payment as comptime is generally 1 hour for every hour over and overtime is time and a half.) Some companies let you work it out unofficially with your boss (and for some it must be in that week and for others it must be in that pay period) and some might let you schedule your hours the way you describe. Only your boss can tell you how he wants to handle it. I would suggest that if no offical/unofficial comp time is ever offered, then working more than 40 hours is generally not a good idea as there is no compensation for it at all.

In general if you are hourly or non-exempt you will get paid for every hour you work. In fact they can expect time and a half for those extra hours.

If you are exempt or salaried, you are unlikely to get paid those extra hours.

I have worked for places that did allow "extended work weeks" for some situations. They were when customer requirements dictated that for a short period of time a salaried employee needed to put in extra hours. All this needed to be arranged in advance, and approved before the hours were worked. It generally only kicked in if the hours worked exceed 44 hours that week. The pay was not at time and a half for those extra hours. This was a corporate policy issue.

Because we were were salaried, we could in many cases decide how to work our 40. In other cases we had a strict schedule because there was a requirement to have a position staffed x hours per day: imagine a restaurant requiring a manager on site at all times. this would be a corporate policy issue.

The law in the US is designed to make sure that the hourly employees who have zero control over their work hours, are compensated for all their hours. Those who have control of their work hours aren't given the same protection.

  • this also helps clear up some ambiguity. Do you think then that being an exempt (salaried) employee, I have a better case for asking my boss if I can work 4, 10hr days vs the 5, 8hr days? I mean, that is basically what the policy is saying so long as it all balances out, right? – matt Nov 3 '14 at 19:39
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    No you don't have a better case. It depends soley on the corporate policies whchi dictate what hours must be worked. If tehy need you to be ther on Friodya, they won;t cer if you are exempt or nonexpempt. If your company had flex time, they would tell you so. Even then, it is a rare place that would let you schedule a 4 day work week if no one else is getting one. – HLGEM Nov 5 '14 at 22:06

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