Comp Time

What Is Comp Time?

Compensatory time, or “comp time,” is a policy where employees, typically in the public sector or certain non-exempt sectors, receive additional time off instead of overtime pay. This time off is accrued when employees work beyond their scheduled hours and is often used as an alternative to immediate financial overtime compensation.

Key Features of Comp Time

  • Alternative to Overtime Pay: Used instead of paying out overtime.
  • Time Off Accumulation: Employees accumulate time off at a rate equal to or sometimes greater than the overtime worked.
  • Policy-Based: Governed by organizational policies and labor laws, which can vary significantly.

How Does Comp Time Work?

  1. Accrual of Time: Employees earn comp time at a rate of 1.5 hours for every hour of overtime worked, or as defined by policy.
  2. Usage: Employees can use accrued comp time like regular vacation days, subject to management approval.
  3. Limits and Regulations: There are often caps on how much comp time can be accrued and rules regarding its use.

Best Practices for Managing Comp Time

  • Clear Policy Communication: Clearly communicate comp time policies to ensure employees understand how to accrue and use comp time.
  • Monitoring and Management: Regularly monitor comp time accrual and usage to ensure compliance with labor laws and internal policies.
  • Flexible Usage: Allow flexibility in how and when employees can use their comp time, while ensuring operational needs are met.


The legality of comp time depends on local labor laws, which vary by country and sometimes within countries. In the U.S., it's generally permitted for public sector workers but restricted in the private sector.

Policies on payout for unused comp time vary. Some organizations may pay it out at termination or under other conditions.

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