What is compensatory time (or “comp time”)?
The Department of Labor (DOL) allows public sector employees to offer compensatory time (or “comp time”) to employees in lieu of overtime payment. Comp time is also calculated at 1.5 times your rate of accrual, but it is held for employees to use as leave time. For example, 4 hours of overtime equates to 6 hours of comp time.
How is comp time different from Flex time or Flexwork?
Comp time refers to how an employee is paid for overtime. By contrast, flex time or a flexwork arrangement is concerned with when you work. At the discretion of an employee’s department, a flexible work arrangement (or “flexwork arrangement”) allows an employee to work a schedule with variable arrival, departure and/or lunch times (see Policy 8.65). A manager can also require a non-exempt employee to “flex” their time to meet department needs without incurring overtime. For example, if an employee needs to work several additional hours to cover travel or a particular project and works 12 hours on a given day, the employee may be requested on a later day that same workweek to leave a few hours early so overtime is not incurred.
Can a department decline to issue comp time? Yes. Some departments are unable to offer comp time based on government contracts or other business circumstances.
Are there limits to comp time accrual? What happens if an employee reaches the maximum limit for accumulated comp time?
Yes. The current maximum is 60 hours per fiscal quarter. We expect this maximum to be increased to 240 hours per fiscal year. Employees who have reached the compensatory time maximum must receive a cash payment for any additional overtime.
When can an employee use their comp time?
Supervisors should make accommodation where possible to allow employees to use comp time as requested by the next fiscal quarter during which it was accrued. Requests to use comp time should be made in the same manner as vacation time requests.
Does comp time need to be used prior to the employee’s accrued vacation time?
Will an employee lose comp time if it is not used by a certain date? What happens if the employee moves departments or leaves the Institute?
Comp time must currently be used by the next fiscal quarter during which it was accrued. If it is not used by that time, it is paid out. Such payment shall be at the employee’s regular earnings rate at the time the payment is made. Employees terminating from the Institution or transferring to a new department will receive a compensatory time payoff from the department in which they earned the compensatory time. The payoff will be calculated based on the employee's current rate of pay.
Are changes anticipated with how the USG and the Institute handle comp time given that a larger employee population is now classified as non-exempt? Yes. Given that the non-exempt population expanded, the Institute is clarifying and expanding its FLSA guidelines around comp time and other topics. Both the Institute and USG have drafted revised comp time guidelines that allow comp time to be accrued up to a maximum of 240 hours per fiscal year. Comp time not taken during the fiscal year when it was accrued is paid out at the employee’s regular rate at the end of the fiscal year.
Employees & Exemption Status
If an employee holds more than one job, can the employee have more than one FLSA status designation?
No. Regardless of how many concurrent jobs an employee holds, the employee’s status must be either exempt or non-exempt. For example: Employee X, whose total salary is below the minimum salary threshold, holds a part-time instructional academic staff position as a lecturer. The employee also holds a part-time position as a recreational specialist. If Employee X’s primary duty is teaching as a lecturer, then the employee’s designation is exempt because teaching is the employee’s primary duty, and the employee qualifies for the “teacher” exemption regardless of salary. But if the primary duty is determined to be work as a recreational specialist, the FLSA designation will be non-exempt because total salary is under the minimum salary threshold.
As a Manager, what should I do if I suspect my employee may be working unapproved overtime or if the employee submits for overtime not pre-approved by me?
If you observe an employee appears to be working frequently outside of the regularly scheduled workday (e.g., sending e-mails late at night) or working without breaks (e.g., frequently eating at their desk while working) you should be proactive and have a conversation with that employee to ensure they understand they should not be working overtime without prior approval and failure by an employee to receive pre-approval of overtime worked may result in disciplinary action. You may also want to strategize with the employees on how to accomplish work demands within a 40-hour workweek and discuss any concerns the employee has with their ability to meet expectations without working overtime. Employees who submit for overtime without approval should be addressed with coaching or other discipline up to, and including, termination. Employees should understand that time records should be accurate and submitting false records is subject to discipline. Likewise, managers have an obligation to ensure employees feel comfortable providing accurate records of time worked and understand they will be paid for those hours. Keeping the door open for communication with direct report(s) is one strategy for ensuring work is timely completed and budgets are met.
As a Manager, may I allow my employee to work through lunch?
Managers are strongly encouraged to facilitate meal and/or rest break for their employees. Asking your employee to work through lunch is permissible provided it is the exception, not the norm, and there is a valid business reason. Can a manager require non-exempt employees to take a 30-minute lunch? While allowing your employees time to take at least a 30-minute meal break is strongly recommended, it is not required by Georgia or federal law or Institute policy. An employee is required, however, to request overtime prior to working such. If a meal break allows an employee to structure their day so that unnecessary overtime is not required and work obligations are covered, then this should be a practice they are highly encouraged to follow and a manager may provide this coaching.
Can a non-exempt employee still work early and late? Can a non-exempt employee check messages from home after work hours?
Occasionally, an adjustment in an employee's work schedule may be required on a short-term basis and such adjustments would not be a part of the Flexible Working Agreement. Non-exempt employees can still make arrangements with their supervisors to work from home occasionally, to check messages at night, or to completely change their daily schedules to different hours than were previously expected, but all time worked must be recorded as “time worked.”
As a Manager, may I adjust the schedule so that my employee works more than 40 hours during the busy months without paying overtime and a reduced number of hours in the less busy months so that he/she receives full salary at end of the year?
No. Employees who are scheduled to work 40 hours per workweek should be scheduled a minimum of those hours each workweek. Also overtime must be paid by the workweek, which is Thursday through Wednesday. It is not possible to adjust the schedule outside the workweek so over time is not incurred.
Does the value of meals and lodging that employees receive as part of the position held count toward the FLSA minimum salary requirement?
No. An employee is required to be compensated on a salary basis at a rate of not less than a specified level “…exclusive of board, lodging or other facilities.” Therefore, any costs incurred by an employer in providing employees with meals or lodging cannot count toward the minimum salary requirement.
My grant doesn't allow for overtime. Do I still have to pay it? Yes. Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Frequently Asked Questions 13 Yes. The Institute is required to comply with the FLSA and must pay overtime regardless of the source of funding.
Independent Contractor vs. Employees
Prior to engaging any individual for services as an independent contractor an assessment based on IRS guidelines must be made and documented. The department must complete the “Employee – Contractor Checklist” form located here.
The prospective worker must also complete the “Independent Contractor Checklist” located here as well as provide a vendor Statement of Work.
All updated forms are routed through DocuSign for review. If additional review is required, a review committee which will include the Tax Compliance Manager, Procurement and Business Services, and Legal Affairs staff will make a determination.
Groups Usually Paid As Employees
Academic Activity – Instruction services provided to enrolled students and for Georgia Tech programs
Former Georgia Tech Employees – Persons employed by Georgia Tech in any position within the last 36 months
Graduate Research Assistant, Graduate Teaching Assistant, or Graduate Assistant – Graduate students providing teaching, research, and staff duties
Individual who performs substantially similar services as those provided by Georgia Tech employees – All individuals, including student workers
Office management and accounting services – individuals who perform substantially similar services to Georgia Tech employees not hired through an employment agency
Retired Individuals from University System of Georgia who are receiving benefits – Retired-but-Working classification
Short-term direct support staff supervised by Georgia Tech faculty or staff – duties often performed by Tech Temps
Student providing non-skilled services – student assistants
Support services for programs and activities – includes summer activities/camps, grading papers and other services
Temporary help – includes event set-up, drivers, errands and various other services
A Pay Classification Matrix has been developed for your reference and can be found here.
New Salary Administration Policy from USG
The Board of Regents (BOR) Policy 8.2.24 states that any cumulative fiscal year salary adjustments greater than or equal to 10% above the percentage increase authorized in the Board’s annual salary and wage administration policy must be approved in advance by the Chancellor.
Where can I review the policy?
The Board of Regents Policy Manual, which is available to the public, contains all of the official policies of the University System of Georgia (USG). The specific policy on Salary Administration can be found here.
When did the Salary Administration policy go into effect?
The effective date was October 1, 2017.
How does the Salary Administration policy work?
USG institutions can adjust employee compensation for various reasons, including promotions, merit increases, equity and market adjustments and position reclassifications to name a few. The Salary Administration policy states the USG Chancellor must approve any salary adjustment that is greater than or equal to 10% above USG-permitted merit increase for the fiscal year.
Does this policy apply to student workers or faculty?
All non-student Georgia Tech employees are within the scope of this policy.
Can you provide an example of when the Salary Administration would apply?
Let’s say you have an employee with an annual salary of $50,000, and you would like to give them a promotion. We know for FY18, the maximum merit-based salary increase was four percent for all faculty and staff. Under the new policy, USG must approve any adjustment greater than or equal to 10% above the approved merit increase. That means, any cumulative fiscal year 2018 salary increase must be less than 14% or, in this specific case, less than $56,999. If you are considering an adjustment that would make your employee’s salary equal to or greater than $57,000, a salary exception must be submitted to Georgia Tech Human Resources (GTHR) for BOR review.
Please note that other Georgia Tech compensation policy rules still apply in addition to the new BOR rule, such as limits up to 10% for a one grade increase, limits of up to 5% if the individual’s pay is already high in the range, etc.
How do I request an exception to the Salary Administration policy?
Exceptions to the Salary Administration policy will be considered. To submit a salary exception, connect with your Human Resources Business Partner or representative to discuss requirements and next steps. As with all Georgia Tech salary exceptions, we will ask for a memo with a justification for the salary requested. The justification should include:
- Request details (current and proposed salary and titles, department information, etc.)
- Reason for the request (e.g., internal equity, retention, promotional increase, market adjustment)
- Supporting documentation (e.g., salary report, justification of critical skills impact to the Institute)
The process will include completing and submitting the USG Advanced Salary Adjustment Request for Approval form. Work with your HR Business Partner or representative to obtain a copy of the form.
Once submitted, how are salary exceptions reviewed?
All salary adjustments and internal offers outside of the new guideline will be reviewed by GTHR for internal and external equity. If the request is equal or greater than percentage increase authorized in the Board’s annual salary and wage administration policy and an exception is supported by GTHR, it will be reviewed by Kelly Fox, executive vice president for Administration and Finance, and President Angel Cabrera prior to submission to USG Chancellor Steve Wrigley. All submissions to USG require full support from Georgia Tech executive leadership.
How long does the salary exception process typically take?
Please allow time for Georgia Tech executive leadership to review the request. In addition, a complete package can take up to 30 days to review by the Chancellor.
As a manager, how do I ensure I am within the salary requirements when hiring or considering a promotion for an employee?
Georgia Tech Human Resources is here to help. If you are in the process of hiring, schedule a recruiting consultation with our Talent Acquisition team. Whether you’re managing through a new hire or considering a promotion for a current employee, rely on your Human Resources Business Partner or representative to assist you through this policy change. GTHR will do all of the necessary calculations.
Is Georgia Tech’s current compensation policy still in effect?
Yes, all Georgia Tech Compensation policies still apply in addition to the new BOR rules. For example, if an employee is promoted to a role that is one grade higher, the Georgia Tech Compensation policy states that they are eligible for an increase in pay up to 10%. The BOR limit for the employee may be higher or lower than 10%, depending on what other actions have occurred for this employee this fiscal year. There are still instances where the salary increase is not a BOR exception, but it will still need to go through the regular Georgia Tech exception process. We are updating the Georgia Tech Compensation Policy to support the BOR policy.
Are the new reporting and approval requirement for salary increase adjustments applicable to both faculty and staff?
Does the new policy apply to adjustments for temporary employees moving into regular positions?
Does the Salary Administration policy apply to temporary or interim pay?
At Georgia Tech, yes. The BOR states that the policy does not generally apply to temporary adjustments that are intended to address short term organizational needs. As a general rule, significant increases (outside of adjustment to new range) should be submitted for approval. The BOR has indicated that one to two months is considered short term. Georgia Tech’s temporary pays are added to base pay and are typically three months to one year for staff, and longer term for faculty administrative appointments.
Does this policy apply to Faculty Summer Pay and Overload Pay?
Not typically as Faculty Summer Pay and Overload pay must be provided within the guidelines established in Board policies.
Does this policy apply to employees hired from other USG Institutions?
Not at this time.
Does this policy apply to changes in percent time?
No. A change solely to how many hours an employee will work is not considered a change in their pay rate. For example, if an employee currently works 50% time, and makes $25,000 a year, and she increases her time to 100% and then makes $50,000 a year, this does not trigger the Salary Administration policy because her hourly rate is not changing. In this example, no BOR exception is needed.
How are the JCCS quartiles used in determining salary? What advice is HR giving in regard to how to interpret the different quartiles?
Staff positions at Georgia Tech are a part of the Job Classification and Compensation System (JCCS). All positions include a title, job description, exemption status, structure, pay grade, range, and quartile. Each job grade has a corresponding range of pay based on market pay comparisons. Each range has quartiles. Individual job performance and job knowledge, as well as the Institute’s financial position, determine the employee’s position in the range.
0 to 2 years of experience in the job for employees who are novice in the position, are in a learning situation, and do not have substantial experience in the new position.
2 to 5 years of experience in the job or employees who have gained experience and skill and who are becoming more proficient in the position for which they were hired. They generally meet expectations in their positions
The midpoint usually represents the average pay for a position that a fully experienced employee might be paid at this level.
5 to 10 years of experience in the job for experienced employees who frequently exceed expectations.
10+ years of experience in the job for employees who have extensive experience and who are consistently exceptional performers
For more information about job structures at Georgia Tech, visit hr.gatech.edu/job-structures. You will be prompted for your GT username and password.
In an open bid process for a staff role, are external candidates treated differently from internal candidates?
In order to ensure fairness and equity in the hiring process, all candidates—internal and external—are held to the same hiring criteria. All candidates should be considered the same way by the hiring manager. In each case, to determine an appropriate level of pay, the hiring manager should consider the individual’s qualifications, performance, and experience compared to the requirements and preferred qualifications of the posted position. The hiring manager should also consider their budget for the position, and internal equity with peers. Based on the final candidate’s qualifications and background, the hiring manager should consider the rules in place, both by Georgia Tech and the BOR, for internal and external hires. For example, if an external candidate is coming from a job of lower responsibility, they too should be placed in Quartile I of the range for the new, higher level position. If an exception is needed for an internal candidate based on their qualifications, please include this information with the exception request to GTHR.
If we are not approved for a BOR exception, how do we continue to attract and retain our employees?
Not all salary adjustment requests will be identified by Georgia Tech leadership as strong enough to move forward to the BOR exception process. In some instances, you may need to have a longer-term plan for the employee’s pay, and as they perform and learn a new role, increase their salary over time. In no instance can we promise future increases to an employee, but GTHR recommends reviewing pay levels each fiscal year, addressing concerns with merit if available, and requesting a salary exception if needed at that point in time.
What advice do you have for managing employee expectations?
Do not offer a level of pay that you do not have the final authority to offer. Verbal and informal offers set up an employee to expect the higher level of pay, and may lead to serious employee relations issues. After you finalize your budget, connect with your HR Business Partner or representative and/or Talent Consultant when considering an offer for an open job or promotion. Together, GTHR will help you navigate through all of the Georgia Tech and BOR policies specific to your situation.
Are salary changes required by a Department of Labor (DOL) prevailing wage determination covered under the BOR exception process?
No. When the DOL determines a prevailing wage that is outside of the salary administration guidelines for employees in H-1B or E-3 visa status, approval from the BOR is not necessary, as we are required by federal regulations to pay at least the prevailing wage.