Is there a limit on the amount of compensatory time that an employee can accrue under the Fair Labor Standards Act? If so, can a municipality set a lower cap on accumulation of compensatory time off?
Yes, there is a limit and yes a municipality can set a lower cap. Law enforcement, fire protection, emergency response and seasonal employees may accumulate up to 480 hours of comp time. Other employees may accrue up to 240 hours of comp time. Since comp time is accumulated at time and one-half, 240 hours is only 160 hours of actual overtime work.
The FLSA does not prohibit local governments from setting a lower limit on the accumulation of comp time. Limits may be placed on the number of hours of comp time accumulated and the time by which it must be used. See Moreau v. Harris County, 158 F3d 241 (5th Cir. 1998) (public employer's practice of requiring employees to use accrued compensatory time when amount reached level predetermined by employer did not violate FLSA).