U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division: The Law on Comp Time for Public Employees


Compensatory Time:

Under certain prescribed conditions, employees of State or local government agencies may receive compensatory time off, at a rate of not less than one and one-half hours for each overtime hour worked, instead of cash overtime pay. Law enforcement, fire protection, and emergency response personnel and employees engaged in seasonal activities may accrue up to 480 hours of comp time; all other state and local government employees may accrue up to 240 hours. An employee must be permitted to use compensatory time on the date requested unless doing so would “unduly disrupt” the operations of the agency. In locations with concurrent State wage laws, some States may not recognize or permit the application of some or all of the following exemptions. Since an employer must comply with the most stringent of the State or Federal provisions, it is strongly recommended that the State laws be reviewed prior to applying any of the
exclusions or exemptions discussed herein.

For certain employees in the following examples, the calculation of overtime pay may differ from the general requirements of the FLSA:

ï‚· employees who solely at their option occasionally or sporadically work on a part-time basis for the same public agency in a different capacity than the one in which they are normally employed

ï‚· employees who at their option with approval of the agency substitute for another during scheduled work hours in the same work capacity

ï‚· employees who meet exemption requirements for Executive, Administrative, Professional or Outside Sales occupations

ï‚· hospital or residential care establishments may, with agreement or understanding of employees, adopt a fixed work period of 14 consecutive days and pay overtime after 8 hours in a day or 80 in the work period, whichever is greater

ï‚· mass transit employees who spend some time engaged in charter activities

ï‚· employees working in separate seasonal amusement or recreational establishments such as swimming pools, parks, etc

Source:Fact Sheet #7: State and Local Governments Under the Fair Labor Standards
Act (FLSA)


  1. The city has a blatantly illegal policy and is going to be in serious trouble with the Federal Labor Relations Board.

  2. When was this law put in place? Is it possible that some employees had earned the comp time before the 480 limit began? Are there any city agencies that have a written policy that is even stricter than the 480 hour limit? What happens when someone reaches the maximum amount? Do they have to get their overtime paid right away?

    • More than 15 years ago. One of the references was from 1998. Another interesting piece is that non fire and police can only accumulate 240 hours of comp time. These employees received all of this comp time due to the illegal activities of the City. They are materially benefiting from illegal activity. Anything on the books above 480 hours for cops and fire or 240 hours for everyone else is probably not enforceable. The city should just write it off and let them sue. Who knows someone at the city may get a stripped suite for defrauding people out of wages.

  3. Correct me if I’m wrong, but comp time is not real money. It’s days off that equate to time worked beyond your normally scheduled time. Instead of paying overtime, the employees earn comp time to schedule as a day off for future use. Why don’t we just make the employees use the comp time. The 480 hour limit should never have been broken. The employees should have known the law and known to use the time accrued before reaching the limit. Much like how we make sure that we use vacation time that we have earned before we lose it at the year’s end. If the employer did not allow the employees to use it then the employer is in violation of the law. The comp time may be the equivalent of money, but it is not real money. The personnel costs will not rise from what is already budgeted because you are not paying the employee beyond their expected wage or salary. The city should schedule all personnel with accrued comp time to start taking it immediately.

  4. We need to clear the record books of all illegal overtime on the books & start fresh.
    These people knew the rules when they atarted racking up “overtime” again. They had been warned.
    They thought they’d abuse the inattentitive staff that was supposed to watch over payroll-well, they just got burned.
    Knock time down to legal limits of 240 / 480 and then pay every worker off 100% and make it POLICY ** NO OVERTIME ** unless approved by dept. head AND the mayor. This will keep our streets cleared but eliminate favortism of one worker staying when everyone else is sent home.

  5. At least this distraction should keep the socio-political engine from dreaming up another “project” to fleece the taxpayers and enrich the politically connected and unions!

  6. “…employees who meet exemption requirements for Executive, Administrative, Professional or Outside Sales occupations…”

    I have worked in and managed positions in these categories. There is a mis-conception concerning overtime pay. There are salaried-exempt and salaried-non-exempt positions.

    The City of Evansville insists on paying (or allowing comp time) for all salaried positions, not just salaried-non-exempt positions.

    All elected positions would be exempt from overtime requirements, as would most director positions.

    Evansville needs to hire someone (to replace, not to supplement) in a HR director position who knew how to implement existing law. That person should then write job descriptions, including whether the position is exempt to non-exempt.

    But then, I am not involved in politics and do not have any votes I am attempting to influence or buy.

    • It might also be advisable that they include the word “manage” in the job descriptions when they look for and interview candidates for Department Manager positions.

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