A Guide to Overtime Pay
What You Need to Know
- Overtime is quite simply any work over the basic working hours as set out in a contract of employment.
- Regulations mean that most workers cannot be made to work over an average of 48 hours a week, though they can agree to work longer should they be given the option.
- However, young workers (ie those under the age of 18) are not allowed to opt out of regulations capping the working week at 48 hours.
- There is no single legal right to pay for working extra hours so minimum statutory levels of pay do not apply to overtime.
- That said, employers are obliged to ensure that average pay rates – including overtime hours – comply with the National Minimum Wage.
- Employers can opt to give workers with "time off in lieu" or TOIL rather than pay extra for any overtime worked.
- Overtime is often not taken into account when working out holiday pay or other forms of pay, including that relating to maternity leave, paternity leave or adoption leave.
What is Overtime?
Overtime is any work over the basic working hours as set out in a contract. Regulations mean that most workers cannot be made to work over an average of 48 hours a week, though they can agree to work longer should they be given the option, so long as this agreement is in writing.
Note, however, that young workers (ie those under the age of 18) are not allowed to opt out of regulations capping the working week at 48 hours and employers are only permitted to ask them to work overtime in exceptional circumstances, for example if no adults are available to cover a shift.
There is no single legal right to pay for working extra hours so minimum statutory levels of pay do not apply to overtime. However, average pay rates must not fall below National Minimum Wage, so it's worth keeping tabs of your hours and monthly pay to ensure your employer isn't breaking the law.
Overtime pay rates should be set out in a contract. They vary from employer to employer as well as sector to sector, meaning some jobs pay extra for working weekends or Bank Holidays, sometimes going up to double or triple time. However, while such high rates of pay used to be relatively common, these days very few employers will pay you above your standard rate simply for working on weekends, with TOIL days becoming increasingly common.
TOIL Days for Overtime
Sometimes, employers can opt to provide workers with more time off instead of paying for overtime. This is known in employment circles as "time off in lieu" or TOIL. It can be taken at any time that suits both the worker and employer, though the latter usually provides a lot of flexibility as a goodwill gesture.
Overtime is often not taken into account when working out holiday pay or other forms of pay, including that relating to maternity, paternity or adoption leave. Despite this, it is taken into account when overtime is guaranteed and people need to work overtime as part of their contract of employment.
Restrictions on Overtime
People should only ever work overtime if their contract says so. People cannot be forced to work over an average of 48 hours per week, even if they are told to work more than this. This extends to whether or not an employer discriminates against or bullies their worker; this is against the law and can result in serious punishment for the boss.
Employees must still ensure that their contract of employment sets out what their normal working hours and days are, including weekends, before entering into any debates over their overtime with bosses or colleagues.
Changes in Working Conditions
Changes to patterns of work also affect the rules with overtime pay in jobs. Employers may often need to change conditions of work because of economic factors or external issues that are beyond control or need a swift response. However, it is also a breach of contract to change working conditions without any agreement, so this agreement is complicit in any subsequent changes to overtime.
- If you require further aid, the Pay and Work Rights Helpline offers both free and confidential advice and can be reached by calling 0800 917 2368. Alternatively make enqueries about your employment rights through this form.
- Looking for a new challenge? Check out the positions available on the UK Net Guide jobs listings.
- Here’s some good advice on how to avoid over working and the stress that comes with it.