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Can you receive time off in lieu of overtime pay?

Employment law in the state of California can be quite complex, making it difficult for the average person to understand completely. Often, this can work to an employee’s disadvantage. For example, an employer may use a worker’s ignorance of employment law to take advantage of him or her. While it is unreasonable to suggest that workers take the time to learn each aspect of employment law, it is wise to cultivate a basic understanding of relevant topics.

Learning about the state’s overtime laws, for example, can help employees avoid mistreatment whether it is intentional or purely accidental. Many workers want to trade in their right to receive overtime pay in exchange for extra time off (or comp time) instead. This is legal in some cases, but it is important to make sure when comp time is allowed and when it is not.

Under California employment law, comp time is only allowed when certain criteria are met. Examples of these criteria include the following.

  • Comp time must equal the rate of overtime pay
  • An agreement for comp time in place of overtime wages must be in writing
  • Workers may accrue no more than 240 hours of comp time
  • Employees must make written requests for comp time instead of overtime
  • Workers must work at least 40 hours per week to qualify
  • Employers must allow staff members to use their comp time within a reasonable period
  • Employers must keep accurate records of accrued and used comp time

Trading overtime for time off is your decision. However, if you discover that your employer has taken advantage of you in some way after agreeing to provide comp time, you may need to consider a legal remedy. This can ensure that your current employee follows all the state’s employment laws going forward.


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