DOES AFGE OVERTIME WIN MEAN BACK PAY FOR YOU?
The Authority has just upheld an arbitrator’s decision (AFGE, 66 FLRA No. 100) which could mean retroactive overtime pay for a lot of federal employees. It all began when the Bureau of Prisons decided that it needed more elaborate procedures to ensure that overtime was paid only after necessary approval forms had been signed by authorized managers.
Once it implemented those procedures, BOP could no longer pay for overtime hours worked on the regular pay day for that pay period. Instead, it split the pay period by promptly paying for overtime worked in the first week of the period in the salary check for that period. However, overtime worked the second week of a period was not paid until completion of the regular pay day of the next pay period.
The Council of Prison Locals filed a grievance. Management’s defense was that there was no OPM regulation addressing how soon overtime must be paid. The Council admitted that, but at arbitration pointed out that when OPM has not issued a regulation addressing an FLSA overtime issue employees are free to enforce any Department of Labor Regulation that does address their claim. Title 29 CFR 778.106, a DOL regulation requires that overtime compensation earned in a particular pay period must generally be paid on the regular pay day for that pay period.
The arbitrator ruled that while the DOL regulation normally only applies to employers outside the federal government, it is binding on feds when OPM has chosen not to issue a similar regulation. FLRA agreed and upheld the arbitrator’s award of back pay for those employees who received their overtime pay late. It appears that BOP will have to pay them for the delayed overtime compensation again, which effectively means the employer will have compensated them at a triple-time rate when this is all over.
If you work for an agency that has delayed paying overtime beyond the regular pay day of the pay period in which it was earned, you should look into filing a similar grievance. You may be able to claim extra compensation going back as far as three years before the date of your grievance. If the union files the claim it can do so on behalf of all employees not promptly paid in the last three years.