In order to avoid paying time-and-a-half for overtime, employers will sometimes offer comp time. This just means that you get to take extra time off later to make up for the overtime hours that you already worked.
A common example is if your employer asked you to stay three hours late one day, but then they told you that you could just come in three hours late the next day. They’re just moving the hours that you work around, in their view, so that you do your job when they need it the most.
This is often illegal
First and foremost, this is not always legal. The government is worried that employers will abuse the rule, so many public-sector employers are barred from doing this.
In cases where comp time is allowed, you still deserve time and a half. When an employee works overtime hours, they are entitled to their full wage plus half for the hours that they work. If you make $20 an hour usually, you would make $30 an hour while working overtime.
Comp time cannot be used to get around this compensation. Your employer still has to give you 1.5 hours off for every extra hour that you worked of overtime. In the example above, if you work 3 extra hours, you would then deserve 4.5 hours off, not 3 hours off.
What if your employer doesn’t give you the right time?
As employees often find out, their employer may only offer them the exact same amount of comp time. Please be aware that this is not legal. If they refuse to pay time and a half, your rights are being violated and you may need to take legal action. Also, remember that many employers are not even allowed to use comp time, though they may not realize it.