Overtime - Rules and regulations for working overtime in a job

overtime
Overtime is generally any time worked over your normal working hours, which you may or may not be paid for.

Unless specifically outlined in your employment contract, employers are under no legal obligation in the UK to pay for any extra work that is carried out by the employee.

Just part of the job?

There are a number of professions where working overtime and not getting paid for it is part and parcel of the job - teaching in particular, is a good example.

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Teachers are paid a wage based on the hours that they are contracted to be in school and no extra money or overtime is paid for the extra hours spent marking books, writing reports or planning lessons in the evening, over the weekend or during the school holidays. This additional work is essentially done for free!

Other professional sectors such as banking and finance expect you to work for longer hours and not get paid for it, and not complying with this unwritten regulation can be perceived as a sign of slacking or non-commitment to the job.

Those that choose to stay late and put in the extra hours are seen to be dedicated, wanting to succeed and willing to do what they can to earn that extra bonus at the end of the year or that promotion. Thankfully, this view is becoming slightly outdated, as spending time with the family and one's children is often deemed as equally important.

How much do i get paid for working overtime?

As previously mentioned, there is no law that states that overtime must be paid nor at what rate. This is a very tricky subject, and therefore, so that there are no misunderstandings or misinterpretations, all issues regarding whether overtime is expected, when it must be worked, and at what rate, should be included in the employment contract.

Employees can be expected to work up to 48 hours per week but they cannot be forced to work over this amount. If you are made to do so, you should speak to your employer or seek outside advice if your employer will not listen or is being unreasonable.

You can choose however, to work more than 48 hours a week; but this decision should be your choice alone and you must be happy to do so. An agreement between you and your employer on this should be in writing.

Overtime is generally paid at the same hourly rate at which you usually get paid, with some employers paying more for unsociable hours, weekends and holidays. Whatever the rate of overtime, it must not fall below the National Minimum Wage.

Generally, the rate of overtime payment varies from job to job and employer to employer. However, jobs within the same sector usually have similar conditions.

Working Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays as overtime is often paid at time-and-a-half, whilst working Christmas Day and New Year's Eve is often set at double-time or more.

It's all in the contract

Before you take on any job, ensure that you find out what their expectations or conditions are for working overtime. If you are expected to work overtime, these details should be included in your contract. For example, if the job is to work in a shop, you may be expected to work one or two Saturdays or Sundays a month and this would be classed as part of your normal working hours. If however, your working hours fall between Monday - Friday and then you are asked to work over the weekend, it would be classed as overtime and must be paid for accordingly.

In your contract, overtime specifications should include:
  • At what rate overtime is paid
  • Whether working overtime is compulsory or not
  • How much notice should be given if asked to work overtime

Working overtime for time off in lieu

Instead of paying for any overtime worked, it can be agreed to take time off in lieu (TOIL). Guidelines for TOIL should be set out in your contract along with other conditions, with things like when it is suitable to take the time off plus how much time off can be accumulated over a given time. You will generally not be able to take time off during busy periods and the time off will most likely be when it is best for your employer and not when it is best for you.

Pros of working overtime

There are many advantages to working overtime, especially if money is an issue.

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Often overtime is required over busy periods of the year, such as Christmas or the summer holidays, which are often times when you spend more money on presents or holidays.

Working overtime is a good way of covering these extra expenses. Working overtime is also useful if you are looking for time off when you would usually be working or for example if you want to extend your weekend if you are going away.

Cons of working overtime

Too much overtime can, on the other hand, lead to exhaustion, which ultimately could result in time off sick, serious health problems or poor performance at work.

This could be disastrous if working with vehicles, machinery or dangerous substances etc. Long working hours over a continued period of time can also affect other aspects of a person's life such as their home and family life.


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