Forms, Policies, & Guides

304 - Compensable Time, Record-Keeping, and Tracking Absences

Subject: Compensable Time, Record-Keeping, and Tracking Absences (formerly Compensable Time and Compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act (Overtime), 304)

Section: U304

Date: February 2015


To ensure University compliance with laws governing compensable time and overtime, including the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Illinois Minimum Wage Law, and Illinois One Day Rest in Seven Act.


The University's pay practices and procedures are governed by the FLSA and its regulations, relevant state and local laws and University policy.


FLSA: a federal law which establishes requirements for minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and child labor standards affecting full and part-time employees in the private sector and in Federal, State and local governments. Under the FLSA, employees are generally presumed to be non-exempt and entitled to overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours in a workweek unless their duties, responsibilities, and salaries meet specific, defined exemption criteria. Exempt employees are not entitled to receive overtime even if they work more than 40 hours in a workweek.

• To determine exempt status, please refer to FLSA Exemption Review Protocol.

• For additional information about the FLSA, please refer to publications of the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor at

Illinois Minimum Wage Law: guarantees a minimum hourly wage for most non-exempt employees 18 years of age and older and provides for overtime payments consistent with the FLSA; workers under 18 years of age may be paid a specific amount less than the adult minimum wage. For additional details, please refer to the Illinois Department of Labor website at

Illinois One Day Rest in Seven Act (ODRISA): provides that most FLSA non-exempt employees must have a minimum of 24 consecutive hours rest in each calendar week and a meal period of 20 minutes for every 7.5 hour shift, with the meal period beginning no later than 5 hours after the start of the shift. Meal periods for employees represented by a union are typically defined in the union bargaining agreement. For additional details, please refer to Illinois Department of Labor website at


1. The FLSA regulations establish criteria for exemption from the FLSA's overtime payment requirements. The University must follow these regulations in determining whether a position is exempt or non-exempt from the FLSA's overtime requirement.

2. The FLSA Exemption Review Protocol describes the process for reviewing and determining the FLSA exemption status of positions at the University of Chicago.


A. Overtime

1. Non-exempt employees are subject to the overtime provisions of the FLSA and must be compensated for all hours worked, either at a straight time or overtime rate as defined below. By contrast, exempt employees are not eligible for overtime payment.

2. As governed by the FLSA, a non-exempt employee who works more than 40 hours in a workweek, must be paid an overtime rate of 1.5 times his/her regular hourly rate of pay for all time actually worked in excess of 40 hours in the workweek. If a non-exempt employee works more than the regularly scheduled hours in a workweek, but less than forty 40 hours per week, the employee is paid at the hourly straight-time rate.

3. When calculating overtime at 1.5 times the regular rate of pay for time worked in excess of 40 hours in a given workweek, only actual time worked is used. Time charged to vacation, sick, personal holiday, University holiday or other paid/unpaid time-off must not be included in this calculation.

4. A non-exempt employee should not work in excess of his/her regularly scheduled work hours without prior manager approval. When overtime hours are required, the University will communicate to the employee as early as possible. Additionally, the University will seek to equalize overtime opportunities among employees performing similar work within a unit, as appropriate.

5. Where an employee, in a single workweek, works at two or more different jobs at the University for which different straight-time rates have been established, the rate to be used for paying the employee for any overtime worked is the weighted average of both rates (i.e., the earnings from all such rates are summed together and the total is divided by the hours worked in all jobs). If there are two or more units involved, the unit where the overtime work occurred will pay for the overtime hours.

6. The FLSA does not permit private institutions to give compensatory time-off in lieu of overtime pay, so employee overtime may only be compensated with pay and may not be compensated with additional time off.

B. Deductions from Pay

1. The University may make deductions from an exempt employee's pay for:

a. full day absences for personal reasons or sickness if vacation, personal holiday, and/or sick leave accruals have been exhausted;

b. any days not worked in the initial and final weeks of employment;

c. for hours taken as unpaid Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave; or

d. violations of major safety rules.  

2. Deductions from an exempt employee's pay are not permitted for disciplinary problems (i.e., as a form of corrective action), for performance deficiencies, or for excused absences caused by jury duty, subpoenaed attendance as a witness in court, or temporary military leave in any week in which an exempt staff employee performs any work. Base pay deductions in less than full-day increments are not permitted except to the extent authorized under the FMLA.

C. Rest/Meal Periods

1. A non-exempt employee who works 7.5 continuous hours or more must be provided with a 20 minute meal period within the first five (5) hours of work. Departments may choose to count meal periods as compensable time but an employee may not skip a meal period to offset late arrival or early departure from work. If an employee receives a 30 minute to 1 hour lunch period within the first 5 hours of work, this satisfies this meal period requirement.

2. The University generally provides an employee with a lunch period of 30 minutes to 1 hour. Under the FLSA, meal periods of 30 minutes or longer generally do not count as compensable time if the non-exempt employee is completely relieved from work. During an unpaid meal period, a non-exempt employee may not perform any work.

D. Training

1. If an employer requires a non-exempt employee to attend training, meetings, or lectures during the employee's regular work hours, the time is compensable.

2. Training time is paid unless all of the following criteria are met:

a. Attendance is voluntary;

b. The training is scheduled outside of the employee's regular work hours;

c. The training is not directly related to the employee's job; and

d. The employee does not perform any productive work during such training.

E. On-Call Time

1. A non-exempt employee who is required to remain on-call on University premises is working while on-call and must be compensated.

2. An employee who is required to remain on-call at home, or who is allowed to leave a message where he/she can be reached, is not working (in most cases) while on-call and may not need to be compensated. Additional constraints on the employee's freedom could make this time compensable.

E. Travel Time

1. To determine whether time spent in travel is compensable time for a non-exempt employee, the type of travel involved must be considered. For example:

a. A non-exempt employee who travels from home before the regular workday and returns to his/her home at the end of the workday is engaged in ordinary home to work travel (i.e., commuting), which is not work time and is not compensable.

b. If a non-exempt employee regularly works at a fixed location and commutes to a different location to work, the time spent traveling to and from the other location is work time and it is compensable. The University may deduct (not count) that time the non-exempt employee would normally spend commuting to the regular work site.

c. Time spent by a non-exempt employee in travel as part of his/her principal activity, such as travel from job site to job site during the workday, is work time and is compensable.

d. Travel that keeps a non-exempt employee away from home overnight qualifies as work time if it takes place during the non-exempt employee's regularly scheduled workday. This travel time qualifies as work time even if it occurs during the employee's corresponding working hours on nonworking days. Time spent traveling outside of the employee's regular working hours is not considered work time and is not compensable.

e. Regular meal period times are not considered compensable time while traveling.

2. An exempt staff employee is not subject to the travel time provisions of the FLSA. Since an exempt staff employee is not paid per hour, he/she does not receive additional pay for time spent traveling.

F. Record-Keeping/Tracking Absences

1. Each unit is required to maintain a record of each employee's paid and unpaid absences.

2. An exempt staff employee must record full-day absences and the reason for each absence (i.e., vacation, personal holiday, sick leave, bereavement leave, jury duty) on a Monthly Absence Report for every monthly pay period. If an exempt employee's pay is to be reduced, the unit must submit a copy of the Monthly Absence Report to Payroll in accordance with University published guidelines.

3. A non-exempt staff employee must record time worked according to unit procedures. A non-exempt staff employee tracks hours worked using UChicago Time or on a timecard for every two-week pay period. Exceptions to normal scheduled hours must be noted.

Employees represented by a bargaining unit may be governed by the appropriate bargaining unit agreement.