Can My Employer Give Me Paid Time Off In Lieu of Overtime Wages?

work calendar with a post it that reads "day off"Both federal and California law state that employees who work more than 40 hours in a week, or six days within a workweek, are entitled to receive overtime compensation. In some workplaces in California, that compensation may be overtime wages or compensatory time off.

If you believe you are being denied overtime compensation by your employer, you should strongly consider speaking to our licensed Sacramento wage and hour lawyers today. The consultation is free, and there are no fees while we work on your claim.

Below, we discuss some of the most common questions employees have about compensatory time off in lieu of overtime wages.

Is Compensatory Time Off In Lieu of Overtime Wages Legal in California?

This is a simple question with a complicated answer. In short, comp time off in lieu of overtime pay is legal in California. But only for certain employees.

California Labor Code 204.3 specifies that employers may provide compensatory time off to its employees who have worked more than 40 hours in a single work week instead of paying one and a half times the employee’s wages.

However, federal labor standards state that employers must pay overtime wages to any employee who works over 40 hours in a week. Therefore, the federal regulation wipes out the state law except for state or local government employees in California. There are other situations when California employees may take paid time off instead of overtime compensation.

Private employers are legally obligated to pay overtime wages to their employees and not provide compensatory paid time off. Even if the employee asks for it or agrees to it.

When Can an Employer Provide Comp Pay In Lieu of Overtime Pay?

State or local government employees in California may receive paid time off instead of overtime pay when all four of the following criteria are met:

  1. A written agreement exists between the employee and employer that this is an option
  2. Employee must request comp time in lieu of overtime pay in writing
  3. Person receiving comp pay must be a full-time employee
  4. Employee must not have more than 240 hours of comp time available

If you work for a private employer and wish to receive compensatory time off instead of overtime wages, you may only do so if you are using that compensatory time within the same week you worked the overtime hours.

What if I Decide Not to Use the Time Off and Want Cash?

If you are a state or local government employee who has accrued compensatory time off due to overtime hours worked, but you decide you do not want to use those hours and want cash instead, you may ask your employer who must comply.

For employees of private companies who wish to receive cash for overtime hours, you do not need to ask, as this is already a legal obligation for your employer. Therefore, if you worked 12 hours on Monday to take time off Friday, but then decided not to take the time off, your employer would need to pay you one and a half times your regular wages for every hour you worked over 40 hours in the week.

What if I Leave the Job Before I Use My Comp Time?

If you quit or are terminated from any job, whether in the private sector or government, you are entitled to recover all compensatory time off in cash upon the termination of your employment.

Therefore, if you were awarded comp time off for overtime hours while working in a local government office, your employer is required to pay you those compensatory time off hours at the termination of your employment.

Denied Overtime Compensation? Call Us Today

If your employer provides compensatory time off instead of paying you overtime wages you are entitled to, he or she may be breaking federal law. You have the right to pursue the overtime wages you are owed.

Let our knowledgeable attorneys review your claim to see what legal options may be available to you. We offer a free consultation to discuss your claim with a licensed attorney, and we do not charge you any fees while we work on your case.

No upfront fees. No risks. Call 916-777-7777 today.