There’s a difference between compensatory time off, which I wrote about last week, and credit hours. Under certain circumstances, your agency may give you comp time instead of paying you overtime for any hours you are required to work that go beyond your regular work week. Credit hours are different. They are earned only when you voluntarily elect to work in excess of your basic work week.

However, you may only earn and use credit hours if you are under a flexible work schedule, and then only with your supervisor’s approval. Further, your right may be limited by your agency’s own rules or those contained in a negotiated union agreement. You’ll have to check that out.

As a rule, if you are a full-time employee, you can earn and carry over a maximum of 24 credit hours to the following pay period. On the other hand, if you are a part-time employee, only the hours in your biweekly basic work requirement may be carried over. However, agency policy or a union agreement may impose stricter limits on how many credit hours you can earn or carry over. Be sure to check that out, too.

Credit hours can’t be earned while you are in travel status or in training, nor can you earn overtime pay or comp time for your credit hours. And, although you can’t receive night pay or Sunday premium pay when you earn or use credit hours, you can receive hazardous duty pay, unless barred by an agency policy.

As a rule, you won’t receive basic pay or overtime for any credit hours you earn. However, if you are no longer covered by a flexible work schedule, transfer to another agency, or leave the government, you will be paid for any unused credit hours at your current basic rate of pay.