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Comp Time Is Rearing Its Ugly Head—Again!
By Brian J. Wagner
NAPS Immediate Past President
In August 2006 and February 2013, I wrote columns for The Postal Supervisor regarding EAS comp time titled, “Comp Time Is Chump Time” and “Don’t Chomp on Comp,” respectively. It’s been 10 years since my last published column on this subject.
Unfortunately, the issue of EAS comp time has again reared its ugly head; consider this a retro article. Here’s the scoop:
I’ve recently received calls from members and branch officers asking where they could find these previous columns. Why? Unfortunately, some in postal leadership are back to promising non-exempt and special-exempt EAS “comp time” in lieu of paying overtime or additional straight time (T-time), respectively.
Nowhere in the USPS’ Employee and Labor Relations Manual (ELM), postal handbooks or manuals is there a reference to comp time. Why? Because it does not exist. What does exist is personal leave for special-exempt and exempt EAS employees as referenced in ELM 519.7. Non-exempt EAS employees are not entitled to personal leave because they are paid for all hours worked, including overtime.
Special-exempt EAS employees are compensated T-time pay for all hours worked in excess of 8.5 in a given day. For more details on EAS overtime, premium pay and administrative leave, you can review:
You will notice there is no reference to comp time.
As I have said in past columns, “comp time is chump-time.” Don’t get swayed thinking comp time is real USPS compensation. As a non-exempt or special-exempt EAS employee, if you are accepting comp time in lieu of actual paid hours—stop! You are cheating yourself and your family from compensation you are entitled to be paid for time worked.
Be advised: If you are not accurately reporting your workhours and accepting comp time rather than being properly paid per USPS pay guidelines, you are falsifying your clock rings. Furthermore, you are not providing the USPS the actual workload of your position and office.
Besides, how do you record a comptime absence on Form 3971 when comp time doesn’t exist? You can’t. How do you explain to the OIG you are using comp time when it’s not an “official” type of USPS leave? You can’t.
Because comp time doesn’t exist and Form 3971 can’t be used to record your absence, what happens if you have an accident and/or are injured when away from the office while claiming comp time? The solution is never take comp time. Always use an official Form 3971 to correctly claim your absence, such as leave without pay (LWOP), sick, annual or administrative leave.
As a result of USPS and NAPS pay consultations, effective Oct. 23, 1999, special-exempt EAS employees are to be paid additional straight time for all hours worked over 8.5 in a given day. Nowhere is comp time referenced because, again, it does not exist. Also, on the NAPS website, you can download a copy of the USPS memo related to “Additional Pay for Supervisors” that still is in force.
It’s nothing to snicker about. Ask yourself: Are you willing to compromise your integrity and postal job to save a few budget hours by working off the clock? If you are being coerced or bullied by someone in a leadership position to trade payable EAS work-hours for comp time, call your local NAPS representative for help.
Per USPS pay policies, respective EAS employees are entitled to be paid for all non-exempt and special-exempt workhours. Bottomline: Don’t trade non-reported work hours for comp time. Even simpler: Don’t chomp on comp!
The only chomping I hope you will do is with my ice-cream-flavor-of-the month recommendation: cinnamon snickerdoodle.