Is it legal for an employer to rescindan offer of comp time for an exempt employee?

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Is it legal for an employer to rescindan offer of comp time for an exempt employee?

I am an exempt employee and comp time has been granted for special project completion (outside of my task scope) in the past. Management approached me with an offer of comp time (2 days) to work 16.5 extra hours over a period of 11 days to cover the unit’s 800 phone line. I agreed. After working an extra 1.5 hrs for three days, management rescinded the comp time offer because of my exempt status yet demanded I continue to work the extra hours.

Asked on January 20, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

There is no legal obligation to give an exempt employee any compensation above his/her salary. Therefore, the  employer may rescind the offer going forward--that is, the employer can say, "John/Jane Doe, we will no longer give you comp time for  working the extra hours"--or at least they can if there was nothing in writing setting out a definite term during which you could earn comp time. (A verbal or oral agreement is also enforceable, but it's much harder to prove its existence, terms, etc., including that it could not be rescinded by the employer early.) You can be made to work extra without getting any additional comp.

However, any extra hours you did work before management changed or rescinded the deal, they have to honor, so if you earned an extra 1.5 hours up to that point, you should at least be able to come in late or leave early some day.

Note that before trying to enforce a written agreement or an oral one, you have to think--is it worth it? Again, remember that you are an exempt employee; therefore, say you got your 2 days comp time. Your employer could make you work extra hours every day from then on if  they chose and you annoyed them enough, and your only recourse would be to quit.


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