Leave and Pay


What is FLSA and what is the difference between exempt and non-exempt?

FLSA stands for Fair Labor Standards Act. It was started in 1938 and established the minimum wage, required non-exempt employees to be paid overtime, required equal pay for equal work and restricted the employment of minors. Exempt employees are those who are “exempt” from the rules and requirements of FLSA (such as managers and supervisors). However, exemption is not determined by an employee’s job title, but by the employee’s actual job duties. “Non-exempt” refers to those employees who fall under the protection and application of FLSA requirements. In FWS, FLSA covers all Wage Grade employees and most General Schedule employees GS-7 and below.

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How do you know for sure whether an employee is exempt or non-exempt from FLSA?

This information is on the SF-50 (block 35) or, you can refer to the Leave & Earnings Statement under the basic information column. It will be identified as “FLSA Class”.

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What are some of the general overtime provisions under FLSA?

More than 8 hours in a day or more than 40 hours in a week is considered overtime, with the exception of employees on alternative work schedules. A nonexempt employee who works more than 8 hours in a day (or 9 or 10, if on an alternative work schedule), with or without the approval or knowledge of the supervisor, must be compensated in the form of overtime pay or comp time, as appropriate. This is referred to as “suffer and permit”. If the supervisor directs an employee to work after hours, overtime pay or comp time must be given regardless of their FLSA status. (If non-exempt, the employee cannot be coerced to take Comp Time instead of overtime – it is the employee’s choice.)

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What is “Religious Comp Time”?

An employee whose personal religious beliefs require the abstention from work during certain periods of time may elect to engage in overtime work for time lost in meeting those religious requirements. To the extent that such modifications in work schedules do not interfere with the efficient accomplishment of the Service's mission, the employee will be afforded the opportunity to work compensatory overtime and will be granted comp time off for such religious observances. Under no circumstances will this type of comp time convert to a payment of overtime.

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What is religion?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defines religion as "sincerely held beliefs that individuals hold with the strength of traditional religious views.”

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If an employee uses religious comp time, how long do they have to earn it back?

The comp time can be worked before or after the use of the comp time, but in any case, must be worked within a reasonable amount of time.

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What kind of leave may supervisors approve?

Annual and sick leave that does not exceed 15 workdays at one time or LWOP that does not exceed 10 workdays. Also, any combination to cover a period of absence due to pregnancy or illnesses for which medical certification is provided.

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What kinds of situations are covered under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)?

An employee is entitled to a total of 12 weeks of unpaid leave (LWOP) during any 12-month period for the following purposes: The birth of a son or daughter of the employee and the care of such son or daughter; the placement of a son or daughter with the employee for adoption or foster care; the care of a spouse, son, daughter, or parent of the employee who has a serious health condition; or a serious health condition of the employee that makes him/her unable to perform any one or more of the essential functions of his/her position. Sick leave and/or annual leave may be substituted for the LWOP, as appropriate.

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How are insurance deductions taken if employee is on LWOP for one or more full pay periods?

Health Insurance - Your enrollment may continue for up to 365 days of leave without pay unless you want it to terminate during a period in leave without pay status. You must pay the employee share of premiums for every pay period that your enrollment continues. The 365 days of continued enrollment during leave without pay status is not considered to be broken by any period(s) in pay status of less than 4 consecutive months. If you are in leave without pay status and return to pay status for less than 4 consecutive months, then return to leave without pay status, you do not begin a new 365-day period of continued enrollment. You must pay your share of the premium costs, and can do so by paying the agency directly on a current basis, having the premiums accumulate and pay the agency back upon your return or prepaying the cost of the premiums.

Life Insurance - You are entitled to continue life insurance for up to 12 months in nonpay status. No premium payments are required, unless you are receiving Workers' Compensation. Your life insurance coverage terminates at the end of the 12 month period, with a 31-day extension of coverage and a right to convert to an individual policy. The same 4 month rule as for health insurance applies for continued coverage while in nonpay status.

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How does WG differ from GS pay system?

GS (General Schedule) pay is covered by law and regulation. GS employees within the United States receive locality pay with the exception of employees in Alaska and Hawaii who receive COLA. There are 15 grades with 10 steps in each grade level, and generally, GS employees receive a pay raise the 1st pay period of each year.

WG (Wage Grade) pay is determined by a survey conducted every 2 years to determine the prevailing rate for each type of work at each location. The agency conducting the survey collects relevant data from establishments in the private sector and uses the data to determine the prevailing rate for specific types of work at the locations. There are 15 grades with 5 steps in each grade level, and the rates are changed after the survey is conducted.

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Where does it say that a 15-minute break in the morning and afternoon is required?

There is nothing in law or regulation that entitles an employee to a break during the work day. Supervisors may, but they are not required to, grant employees a 15-minute break during a 4-hour tour of duty, or two 15-minute breaks during an 8-hour tour of duty. This is not an employee right, but a discretionary option for management. Employees may not use a break or rest period to shorten the number of hours in a workday or extend a meal period.

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Can people work comp time on a flexible schedule?

An employee on a flexible work schedule may request substitution of comp time for overtime worked. The supervisor can approve or disapprove such a request by an employee. Furthermore, a supervisor may determine that an employee whose rate of basic pay exceeds that of a GS-10, step 10, will be compensated for irregular or occasional overtime (the work was scheduled after the beginning of the administrative workweek) by an equivalent amount of comp time off instead of overtime pay. Employees who are not on a flexible work schedule may not receive comp time in lieu of overtime for regularly scheduled overtime (the work was scheduled before the beginning of the administrative workweek).

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How is “duty station” defined as it relates to pay and travel?

The duty station is defined as a 50-mile radius around the actual location of the office or work-site. In general, only hours actually spent traveling between the official duty station or home and the point of destination are considered time in travel status.

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Does FLSA cover all non-exempt employees when determining hours worked while training or preparing for training outside regular work hours?

Time spent in entry-level training outside regular working hours is not considered hours of work, but time spent in training during regular working hours is considered hours of work. When nonexempt employees are scheduled in advance of the administrative workweek to attend a training class for a specified number of hours, all of the scheduled hours are considered hours of work for overtime pay purposes. Compensatory time off may not be approved for training under these circumstances, because the training was scheduled before the beginning of the administrative workweek, and accordingly, the overtime is considered regularly scheduled.

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If one of my non-exempt employees is driving a government vehicle and traveling outside the official duty station, is travel time considered hours of work? What if the same employee is a passenger riding in the vehicle?

Yes to the first question; no to the second.

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For an exempt employee who is traveling away from the official duty station, is travel time considered hours of work if the travel includes performance of actual work that can only be performed while traveling? What if the travel results from an event that cannot be scheduled or controlled administratively such as by an organization outside the government?

Yes and yes.

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