Q: How long do you have to use the comp time you accrue during the year? Can you lose it if you don’t use it within a certain period of time?
A: For both FLSA Nonexempt and Exempt employees, accrued compensatory time off in lieu of overtime pay for irregular overtime is to be used within 26 pay periods after the pay period in which it was earned. But there the path splits.
For Nonexempt employees, if the accrued comp time isn’t used within 26 pay periods after the pay period in which it was earned, then the employee must be paid for the time at the rate of pay in effect at the time the employee worked the irregular overtime. See 5 C.F.R. § 551.531(d).
For Exempt employees, if the accrued comp time isn’t used within the 26 pay period limit then the agency has the authority to authorize payment or forfeiture. Each agency should have established a policy on how this issue will be handled. You might check into applicable policy directives in your agency or with your HR office to determine how your agency handles unused comp time for Exempt employees. See 5 C.F.R. § 550.114(d).
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.