If your employer regularly offers you comp time instead of overtime pay when you put in long hours at your Missouri workplace, you may be losing out on money that should be on your paycheck. According to SmallBusiness.com, except in the case of government employers, companies that provide paid time off work instead of an hourly wage one-and-a-half times your normal rate may be breaking federal employment laws.

In order for overtime pay to be mandatory, your position must not be salaried. Even if your employer does label your earnings as a salary, the company may still owe you overtime pay if you make less than $455 for a week’s work, or if your yearly earnings are less than $23,660.

If you have done the math and discovered that you are not being paid what you legally earned, you are not alone. According to one survey, 30 percent of the business owners who participated provided comp time to employees when they should have paid overtime. Maybe your employer has given you a choice between overtime pay or comp time, and you prefer to take the time off. Eighteen percent of those surveyed gave hourly wage workers the option, but they were still violating the law. Overtime pay is mandatory; comp time is not an option.

Even employers that do not intentionally deny workers their earnings could be in for some hefty penalties. If you sue your employer for back wages and win, the court could award you as much as 200 percent of what you are owed. Your employer may also have to pay the legal fees that you incurred through filing the lawsuit. An employer that gives comp time knowing that it is illegal may have to pay a fine of $10,000, and retaliating against you for reporting the issue could result in even more financial penalties.

This is a general overview of when comp time is not an option. It is provided for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as legal advice.