Overtime compensation

Last updated: October 31, 2023

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Washington State Minimum Wage Act (WMWA) require that most workers receive minimum overtime pay of 1.5 times the employee’s regular pay rate for all hours worked over 40 hours in a seven-day workweek that begins Monday, 12:00 a.m. and ends the following Sunday at 11:59 p.m.

Positions that are covered by FLSA and WMWA overtime regulations are called nonexempt (NE) or overtime eligible. Employees in FLSA nonexempt positions are required to track their hours worked in one of the University’s timekeeping systems: Workday (campus) or Kronos (medical centers).

The overtime status for positions is by job profile and indicated in the job profile name as “NE H” (nonexempt hourly paid) or “NE S” (nonexempt salaried). This information is also displayed in the “OT Eligible” column of the Job title list and class specs for classified staff.

A part-time salaried nonexempt employee who works over their regular work schedule, but not enough hours to require overtime payment at time and one half, receives straight time for the extra hours worked.

In addition to weekly overtime, additional overtime provisions may be established in the applicable collective bargaining agreement for contract covered staff and in the Professional Staff Program for professional staff. Overtime provisions for classified non-union staff are established in the applicable civil service rules (WAC 357-28-240 through WAC 357-28- 285).

Hours worked

Hours worked means all hours during which the employee is authorized or required to be on duty at their duty station. Hours worked includes:

  • Travel time: All management-required travel time related to work is compensable regardless of the number of hours or when the travel takes place. It also includes any time necessary to get to an airport, train station, or other transit center necessary to complete the out-of-town travel.
  • Required training and meeting time: All time spent attending lectures, meetings, training periods and similar activities required by the employer.
  • On-call time: Time spent by employees who are required to remain on or so close to their duty station that they cannot use the time effectively for their own purposes.
  • Rest periods

While paid time off and holidays are not considered hours worked, they may be considered time worked toward the calculation of overtime depending on employment program:

Employment program Considered time worked
Classified non-union All paid holidays, including the personal holiday and the use of holiday credit, are considered time worked
Contract covered staff Determined by your collective bargaining agreement
Professional staff Hours worked only
Student hourly Hours worked only

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Manager approval for overtime work

Each unit should have an overtime authorization process and inform overtime eligible employees that they must obtain advance manager approval to work more than their regular work schedule. Overtime eligible employees must be paid for all hours worked whether overtime has been approved or not. However, employees who work unauthorized overtime hours may be subject to corrective action.

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Multiple positions

A nonexempt employee who works in more than one position during a workweek must have the hours worked in all positions combined to calculate the total hours worked. Overtime is charged to the department where the hours worked exceed 40.

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Compensatory time

Unless a collective bargaining agreement says otherwise, compensatory time off is paid time off that employees who hold an FTE may accumulate instead of being paid for extra hours worked over their regular schedule (straight time or overtime). With manager approval, an employee may request to receive compensatory time off instead of overtime payment. Employees cannot be required to accept compensatory time instead of overtime pay.

Unless a different, higher rate is specified in a particular employment program or collective bargaining agreement, compensatory time off is accumulated at the rate of 1.5 hours for each overtime hour worked or 1.0 hours for each straight time hour worked.

Comp time maximum accrual: Compensatory time off accumulation is limited to 240 hours unless the employee is considered police or emergency response personnel, who may accumulate up to 480 hours. At the point the cap is reached, units must pay overtime for any extra hours worked. Contract covered employees should check their collective bargaining agreement as some agreements dictate a different maximum amount.

Comp time cash-out: Unless a collective bargaining agreement states otherwise, employees must use or be paid for accumulated compensatory time by June 30.

Comp time transfer and payout: Employees are paid for any unused compensatory time when transferring to another UW department or when terminating employment. Payment is based on the employee’s regular rate of pay at the time of the transfer or termination.

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Mandatory payment alternative

An overtime eligible employee cannot “volunteer” to do extra work in the unit if payment would otherwise be required in order to get the work accomplished. Some units are not funded to pay overtime. Overtime work that is needed but not funded may be offered to, but not required of an employee, contingent on the employee’s willingness to accept compensatory time instead of overtime payment. Overtime accepted on a contingent basis must be documented with the Contingent Overtime Agreement (PDF) form.

The employee’s acceptance of this offer must be completely voluntary. No adverse action may be taken against an employee for refusing a contingent overtime offer. Direct questions about the use of the Contingent Overtime Agreement may be directed to your HR Consultant.

Units that offer overtime contingent on acceptance of compensatory time must understand that compensatory time, if not used, must be paid annually, at time of job change, or upon termination. It is therefore important to ensure that compensatory time balances are used before such payment is required.

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Medical centers personnel workweek exception

Nonexempt employees working at the medical centers may be assigned a 14-day schedule of two consecutive FLSA workweeks. Employees with a 14-day schedule earn overtime for work in excess of:

  • eight hours in any workday and
  • 80 hours in a 14-day period.

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Exempt staff

Contract covered, classified non-union and professional staff in FLSA exempt positions do not earn overtime payment or compensatory time off.

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Exempt staff overtime exceptions

Positions that are FLSA exempt may be granted overtime or straight time payment or compensatory time off for the following reasons:

  • A labor contract allows for compensation or compensatory time off at 1.0 or 1.5 times the straight time rate of pay for hours in excess of a contractually defined scheduled period.
  • A labor contract or MOU allows for compensation or compensatory time off to be granted when the employee is assigned to work an excessive amount of time for an extended period. HR approval for “excepted staff” positions is required in accordance with the terms of the applicable labor contract.
  • When the manager requires an exempt classified non-union employee to work an excessive number of hours over an extended time period, the supervisor may approve compensatory time on a straight time basis.
  • Under established “community practice” at the University’s medical centers.
  • Specific exceptions granted by the Vice President for Human Resources to professional staff working on research vessels or remote research locations.

If you have questions about any of the above exceptions, contact your department’s Human Resources Consultant.

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Guidance for units with overtime eligible employees

  1. Ensure that your unit has written policy or practice requiring that overtime eligible employees obtain prior supervisory approval before working overtime.
  2. Make sure that you know which positions in your unit are overtime eligible, and that the employees in those positions understand their overtime eligibility status.
  3. Establish a policy regarding compensatory time accumulation and use that addresses the following:
    • When compensatory time may be accumulated and that manager approval for compensatory time off accumulation is required;
    • Whether you will require employees to use accumulated compensatory time before you will approve use of vacation time off;
    • Whether your unit wishes to establish its own cap on compensatory time accumulation to minimize possible financial liability for payment.

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