Q: I am curious if there is a rule/law that GS-9 and above cannot get overtime or comp time. Is there such a thing as a unwritten rule that a station can have to prevent this? Thanks.
A: Thanks for the question. There are two laws that apply to Federal employees and authorize them to earn overtime. The first is the Federal Employee’s Pay Act (FEPA or Title 5), and the second is the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). On a recent notification of personnel action, which in many agencies is an SF-50, there should be a block that is labeled FLSA Status. If your position description is identified as FLSA N, then you are covered by the FLSA. If your GS-9 position description is identified as FLSA E, then you are covered by the FEPA.
While there are differences in the coverage of the two laws, both provide for compensating Federal employees for overtime when they work more than 8 hours in a day or 40 hours in a week, unless the person is working either a flexible or a compressed work schedule. The compensation can come in two forms – pay for overtime that is scheduled before the workweek begins, and either pay or comp time off for overtime that is scheduled during the same workweek in which it is performed.
And to your question about unwritten rules to prevent overtime, the answer is if the employee works overtime that was ordered or approved by management, then the employee must be compensated for that overtime. Not to do so violates the law.
One of the problems managers often face is a limited overtime budget. If that’s the situation at your location, then the managers should not be assigning work that requires you to work beyond 8 hours in a day or 40 hours in a week (or whatever your compressed work schedule is).
If you believe you’ve worked overtime and not been compensated, it is always good to talk it over with your supervisor and timekeeper. If that doesn’t bring a satisfactory answer, you can reach out to your agency’s human resources office or file a claim with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.
Wayne Coleman is a federal pay expert available to help your agency avoid premium pay claims through on-site training. Contact him for more information.