Q. Can our company legally offer comp time instead of overtime? I've received conflicting answers. —R.S., Virginia
A. No, unless the comp time is in the same week as the overtime, which really is nothing more than changing a schedule. For example, if your workweek runs Monday through Sunday, and a worker who usually works Monday through Friday is needed on Sunday, you could have that worker take Friday off and come in on Sunday.
Current law says only hourly, nonexempt public-sector workers can choose between overtime and compensatory time for working more than 40 hours in a workweek. But that may change this year. Legislation moving through Congress (H.R. 1119) would let you give comp time up to a year later for overtime worked in any workweek. Another bill (S. 317) would allow you to use any two-week period to calculate overtime and would require you to pay overtime only if an employee worked more than 80 hours in a two-week period. If that became law, you could schedule overtime in one week and then adjust hours the next week without having to pay overtime as long as the total stayed below 80 hours.
Outlook: More than 50-50 chance on the comp-time bill, below 50-50 on the 80-hour bill.