Q & A Session – Choosing Between Compensatory and Overtime Pay


Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.


I am a Permanent Full-Time Employee. I was advised that I could earn compensatory time in lieu of overtime pay. When I attempted to use compensatory time, I was told that I had been given inaccurate information and that I can only be given compensatory time in lieu of overtime when overtime is not granted or proved essential. Can you please explain this situation?


Federal employees often have a choice for how they would like to be compensated for overtime work – in many instances they can elect to receive overtime pay or compensatory time off.

However, there is not always a choice in the matter. Title 5 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 550.114(a) explains that an agency “may” grant compensatory time instead of overtime if it wishes to authorize such a compensatory program. In your situation, it appears that compensatory time off was not authorized, even though someone erroneously informed you that it was. The agency may choose not to grant compensatory time off in lieu of overtime.

The overtime pay and compensatory time off regulations may be found at 5 C.F.R. §550.113.114.

Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw, Bransford & Roth, PC.

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About Author

Debra Roth

Debra L. Roth is a partner at the law firm Shaw Bransford & Roth, a federal employment law firm in Washington, D.C. She is general counsel to the Senior Executives Association and the Federal Managers Association, host of the “FEDtalk” program on Federal News Radio, and a regular contributor to Federal News Radio’s “Federal Drive” morning show. Email your legal questions to lawyer@federaltimes.com.

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