Think Comp Time Is the Answer? Might Want to Check with Cleveland
by Michael Fox
Private sector employers who are denied the use of comp time as a way of balancing their workforce and to meet the desires of their employees for more flexible working schedules have been seeking Congressional action for some time. But as with most things, it brings its own set of headaches as the City of Cleveland found today when a summary judgment it had obtained over the use of comp time was reversed and remanded back to the district court for further action. Beck v. City of Cleveland, Ohio (6th Cir. 11/12/04) [pdf].
The problem was whether the City's practice of not allowing officers to use their accrued comp time because it would require them to pay other officers overtime. Under the statute which provides for governmental comp time, an employer is required to permit it to be used within a reasonable time of making a request and "if the use of the compensatory time does not unduly disrupt the operation of the public agency." Although the district court bought the city's argument that it could be a "financial disruption", the Appeals Court was more persuaded by opinion letters from the Department of Labor and the reasoning of district courts which had addressed the issue holding that it is operational not financial disruption that is necessary to bar comp time's use.
While comp time would be a welcome addition to the private sector, and maybe one whose time is drawing nearer, it will bring its own new set of issues.