The OpSec Blog

Security and privacy information and advice at home and abroad.

RQ: Do You Get Paid Overtime?

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This week’s Reader Question concerns overtime.

As a government worker, do you get overtime?  How often do you find yourself working late?

Overtime pay is very inconsistently implemented.  Sometimes you get overtime, sometimes you dont.

Domestically, funding for overtime is usually decided at the division level.  I’ve never gotten overtime while in Washington, and the times when I actually would have earned it were few and far in between.  Instead of overtime you get compensatory time off.

Overseas, overtime pay is a post decision.  I’ve almost always received overtime pay overseas to some extent.However, overtime comes with a few caveats.  Most of the time it has to be pre-approved.  “What if I end up having to work after hours on short notice?”  As you might imagine, you might not get the overtime rate for those hours.  Often this is your supervisor’s (or post management’s) decision and dependent on the nature of the work.  Furthermore, not all Foreign Service skill codes are eligible for overtime pay.  Tenured Foreign Service Officers (Generalists) don’t get overtime pay, period.  Foreign Service Specialists (tenured and untenured) and Untenured Foreign Service Officers are eligible to receive it if all the right conditions are met.

Travel, for those Foreign Service skill codes who travel frequently (Regional technicians, DS folks), often puts one past the 8 hours of normal duty.  In this case you usually get travel compensatory time, which is tracked at the office or branch level.  It should be noted that compensatory time usually has time limits associated with it (as opposed to annual leave which rolls over from year to year up to a certain number of hours).  The Department of State does not have a time buyback program, so comp time hours are “use or lose.”

Be sure to check out past Reader Questions in the Archives.

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