Policies & Contracts

222 - Compensable Time, Record-Keeping and Tracking Absences

Subject: Compensable Time, Record-Keeping and Tracking Absences (formerly 304)

Section: U222

Date: July, 2018


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.

Who is governed by the policy:

This policy applies to all employees.


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

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.

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


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 their 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 their regularly scheduled work hours without prior supervisor 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, therefore employee overtime may only be compensated with pay and may not be compensated with additional time off.

Deductions from Pay

1. Deductions from an exempt employee’s pay may only be taken in full-day increments. The University may make deductions from an exempt employee's pay for full day absences for personal reasons or sickness if the employee’s vacation, personal holiday, and/or sick leave accruals have been exhausted.

2. Deductions from an exempt employee's pay are not permitted for disciplinary reasons (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.

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 the 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.


1. If an employer requires a non-exempt employee to attend trainings, 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:

  • Attendance is voluntary,
  • The training is scheduled outside of the employee's regular work hours;
  • The training is not directly related to the employee's job; and
  • The employee does not perform any productive work during such training.

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 they 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.

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 non-exempt employee who travels from home before the regular workday and returns to their 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.
  • 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) the time the non-exempt employee would normally spend commuting to the regular work site.
  • Time spent by a non-exempt employee in travel as part of their principal activity, such as travel from jobsite to jobsite during the workday, is work time and is compensable.
  • 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.
  • 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, the employee does not receive additional pay for time spent traveling.

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) for every monthly pay period. This monthly report must be completed even if no absences occurred that month. (See Policy U519 Monthly Absence Reporting.)

3. A non-exempt staff employee must record time worked according to unit procedures. A non-exempt staff employee tracks actual hours worked on the appropriate timesheet for every two-week pay period. Exceptions to normal scheduled hours must be noted. Absences must be reported on the appropriate time off calendar.

Roles and Responsibilities:

Governed Party Roles and Responsibilities
Employee The Employee is responsible for following the Supervisor’s time off request procedures, recording their absences, and accurately recording all time worked.
Supervisor The Supervisor is responsible for setting time off request procedures, ensuring they are followed, verifying the use of time off is appropriate, monitoring for pattern absences, and approving the employee’s record of absences and time worked.

Related Information:

Policy U519 Monthly Absence Reporting

Fair Labor Standards Act

Illinois Minimum Wage Law

Illinois One Day Rest in Seven Act

Key Contacts:

Name Email Extension
Center of Expertise – Employee & Labor Relations elrelations@uchicago.edu 4-7345