Compensatory time, or comp time, is time off with pay in lieu of overtime pay for irregular or occasional overtime work, or when permitted under agency flexible work schedule programs.

For example, it can be earned if you are traveling outside normal work hours for agency-related work purposes but not if you are on union-related business. Further, compensatory time can be earned if you are traveling between an official duty station and a temporary one or between two temporary ones; however, it can’t be earned if you are moving between to permanent duty stations.

Separately, employees may work additional hours to compensate for time they are away from regularly scheduled work for religious purposes.

Comp time policies vary

Policies on compensatory time off in lieu of overtime vary between those who are covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act and those who are exempt from it. Exempt employees are generally those in executive, administrative and professional positions, whether they are under the general schedule or the wage system. Nonexempt employees include all employees in grades GS-4, those in GS-5 through 10 (and any prevailing rate employees) who aren’t in executive, administrative or professional positions.

Whether you are exempt or nonexempt from the FLSA, your agency can approve comp time for you. It can also approve it if you are a prevailing rate employee. However, if you are either a nonexempt or prevailing rate employee, it can’t require you to accept comp time in lieu of overtime pay for any irregular or occasional overtime work. On the other hand, if you are an FLSA exempt employee, you can be required to accept comp time in lieu of overtime pay in those situations, but only if your basic pay rate is above that of a GS-10, step 10.

Compensatory time off in lieu of overtime generally must be used within 26 pay periods. If you are an FLSA exempt employee and you don’t use your comp time within those limits, you will lose it unless you were unable to do so because of circumstances beyond your control. If you are an FLSA nonexempt employee and don’t take the comp time within the limit, your agency will have to pay you for that overtime work at the overtime rate that was in effect during the pay period in which the overtime work was completed.

Rules at 5 CFR 550 subpart J create a presumption that employee requests to adjust their work schedules for religious observances are to be granted, saying that they should be approved unless they would “interfere with the efficient accomplishment of an agency’s mission”—which the agency would have to document in writing.

Agency officials are not charged with determining whether an employee’s belief is the correct interpretation of a religious creed. It is sufficient that the employee’s sincerely held personal religious beliefs cause the employee to feel an obligation that he or she should be absent from work for a religious purpose.

An employee must make up the missed time within 13 pay periods before to 13 after the absence. The overtime pay provisions of Title 5, U.S. Code, and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) do not apply to employees who work different hours or days because of religious observances, even if an employee voluntarily works in excess of 40 hours per week or eight hours per day for this purpose.