Q. Can you please clarify if and when we can offer comp time to our employees? I'm confused. —S.L., West Virginia
A. Only public-sector employers are allowed to offer compensatory time off in lieu of overtime pay to employees who work more than 40 hours in a workweek. Remember, the Fair Labor Standards Act () says private employers must pay overtime at one-and-a-half times the employee's regular rate for all hours in excess of 40 in a workweek. (Employers must select a fixed seven-day "workweek" period for purposes of FLSA compliance.)
While private employers can't offer comp time that allows employees to carry over hours from one workweek to the next, they can establish a "flexible time" schedule. That allows employees who work more than their regular hours on one day to take time off on another day in the same workweek. The key tocompliance is counting hours in a single workweek, then paying OT for hours beyond 40.
Note: Private-sector employees can't "voluntarily" waive their rights to overtime pay and accept comp time whenever they work more than 40 hours in a workweek. Overtime compensation is an "inalienable" right under the FLSA.