There are times when your agency may ask you to work overtime. It may also ask you to accept compensatory off time instead of overtime pay, with one hour of comp time granted for each hour of overtime work performed. It can do that either for irregular or occasional overtime work. When permitted under an agency’s flexible work schedule program, it can also do that for regularly scheduled, irregular or occasional overtime work.

Nevertheless, there are limits. What your agency can do depends on whether you are covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act. Employees who are exempt from the act are those in executive, administrative and professional positions, either under the General Schedule or the wage system. Nonexempt employees include all those in grades GS-4 plus those in GS-5 through 10 (plus all prevailing rate employees) who aren’t in an executive, administrative or professional position.

While your agency can approve comp time for any exempt or nonexempt employee, if you are either a nonexempt or prevailing rate employee, it can’t require you to accept comp time in lieu of overtime pay. However, if you are an FLSA exempt employee whose basic pay rate is above that of a GS-10, step 10, you can be required to accept comp time in lieu of overtime pay.

Although you can earn comp time if you are traveling outside normal work hours for agency-related work purposes, you can’t if you are on union-related business. Comp time also can be earned if you are traveling between an official duty station and a temporary one or between two temporary duty stations. However, you can’t earn it if you are moving between to permanent duty stations.

If you are an FLSA exempt employee who has earned comp time, you’ll need to find out if your agency has set time limits for taking that time off. If it has and you don’t use those hours within them, you’ll lose them, unless you were kept from doing so by circumstances beyond your control.

On the other hand, if you are an FLSA nonexempt employee and don’t use the comp time within your agency’s time limits, it will have to pay you for those hours at the overtime rate that was in effect during the pay period when the overtime work was performed.