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Is it Legal for Your Employer to Give You Paid Time Off Instead of Overtime Pay?

Posted on behalf of Peter T. Nicholl in Unpaid Overtime Dec 14, 2021

desk with person holding paid time off cardNon-exempt employees who work more than 40 hours in a week must receive overtime pay equal to one-and-a-half times their regular rate of pay. The problem is, this is expensive for employers, which is why they often look for ways to get out of paying overtime.

One way they may do this is by providing paid time off instead of paying you time and a half. If this sounds illegal, it is because it probably is. Private sector employers are prohibited from doing this, although it is legal in the public sector.

You may be thinking the practice might be legal if you simply enter into an agreement with your employer. However, this is prohibited by law, even if you feel you would be OK with it.

If you were denied overtime pay, call The Law Offices of Peter T. Nicholl to discuss possible legal options. The initial consultation is free and there are no upfront costs with our services.

Why is This Practice Illegal in the Private Sector?

Technically, there is no limit to the number of overtime hours your employer could force you to work. Yes, employers are allowed to force you to work overtime hours. Employers who regularly require workers to work overtime likely tell potential new hires about this during the onboarding process.

By requiring employers to pay cash for overtime hours, there is a monetary disincentive to requiring excessive overtime. This helps prevent workers from being kept away from non-work activities and more importantly, their families.

Another benefit to the pay requirement is employers are encouraged to hire more workers instead of making a smaller workforce work more overtime hours.

Have Legislators Considered Changing the Law?

The U.S. House of Representatives considered a bill to change the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and allow workers to accept comp time instead of overtime pay. H.R. 1180, the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2017 was considered in 2017, but it did not get signed into law.

The bill would have given workers a choice between comp time and cash wages for overtime hours worked. The bill would have also prohibited employers from intimidating, coercing or forcing employees to take comp time instead of cash wages. Employees could accrue up to 160 hours each year, and any unused time would be given back to the employees in the form of cash wages.

What Protections Are There for Public Workers Who Use Comp Time?

Public sector workers, such as those employed by the state of Maryland, must be allowed to use comp time within a reasonable period of making a request. The only exception is if time off would cause an undue disruption of the operations of the public employer. It is important to note, courts have given employers leeway to refuse to allow time off.

There are limits on the number of hours public sector employees can accrue. For example, some law enforcement and fire protection employees can accrue as much as 480 hours of comp time. However, any hours not used must be paid to the employee at the time of his or her termination.

Contact Us Today to Learn About Our Services

Our firm has been holding employers accountable for unpaid overtime for decades. We have extensive knowledge of state and federal law and are prepared to aggressively pursue the unpaid wages you are owed.

Our Maryland unpaid overtime lawyers are here to answer your questions and discuss legal options, all at no upfront cost to you. There are also no obligations to hire our firm after meeting with us.

We are prepared to guide you through the legal process, pursuing the wages you were denied.

Contact our personal injury lawyers for a free consultation if you have been injured by another’s negligence. You may be entitled to compensation.

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