Wage Law Basics for Public Employees

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes overtime pay and minimum wage standards for employees in the public and private sector. The FLSA has some unique provisions applicable only to federal and local government sector employers and their employees.

Here are some such provisions worthy of your reflection from a public agency law attorney.

State and Local Government Employer Coverage

The FLSA recognizes the government of the United States, any state government, any agency of the United States, any interstate governmental agency, any government of a political subdivision or state as a public agency.

The act applies to public agency employers. Private employers that engage in similar activities as performed by public employers are not considered public agencies.

Compensatory Time for Public Agency Employees

The act provides public agencies the option of offering covered employees a certain amount of compensatory time instead of paying them overtime wages in cash. Under certain circumstances, employers can offer compensatory time to nonexempt employees as compensation for overtime work.

The amount of compensatory time offered to an employee should correspond to the overtime rate, which is one and one-half hours of compensatory time for every extra hour worked.

Employers should allow employees to use their accrued compensatory time within a reasonable time period after they make a request unless their absence can result in operational disruptions.

Accrual of Compensatory Time and Limits

Compensatory time can accumulate. If an employee does not use their accumulated compensatory time, their employer must pay them cash compensation.

There is a limit on the amount of compensatory time a public agency can offer an employee. Law enforcement professionals, first responders, and employees working under an agency engaged in seasonal activities can accumulate up to 480 hours of compensatory time.

Other state and government employees can accrue up to 240 hours of compensatory time. Once an employee accrues the maximum amount of permissible compensatory time, their employer must pay them cash overtime wages.

Payment of Accrued Compensation Time at the End of Service

At the end of their service, an employee is entitled to receive a cash payment against any unused compensatory time.

Rates of pay might vary over the course of employment. To prevent confusion, the FLSA has specific instructions for calculating the cash value of any unused compensatory time.

Public agency employers must either pay their employees the average regular rate during the last three years of their employment or their final regular rate of pay (whichever is higher) for any unused compensatory time at the end of their employment.

Johnston & Associates Law is committed to helping businesses and individuals navigate the ever-evolving complex legal landscape.  Our team comprises some of the finest public agency Law attorneys in Santa Rosa. No matter how complex your legal issue, we can create a customized solution to fit your needs. To talk to one of our attorneys, call (707) 545-6542.