Working overtime?

Jason is due to give a presentation next month. He’s been working on ideas for his script and slides, but hadn’t yet collated all the visuals he wants to use.

He wasn’t worried, because the presentation is still a while away.

However, on Friday, he received an email from the event organisers. They want his slides by Monday, otherwise he won’t be allowed to use any.

Jason worked all weekend to ensure his presentation was ready.

As he is self-employed, he won’t be paid any extra for working those unsocial hours.

Overtime entitlement

Unlike Jason, if you are employed and your boss asks you to work extra hours, you may be entitled to paid overtime – but this is not guaranteed.

Your normal working hours will be shown in your employment contract. This important document will also include details of any overtime pay rates and how they are calculated.

If your employer doesn’t pay overtime, your average pay for the total hours worked mustn’t fall below the National Minimum Wage.

Forced overtime

Can your boss force you to work overtime?

Yes, but only if your contract says so. Even if it does say so, you can’t be forced to work more than an average 48 hours per week by law.

If you are asked to work more hours than that, you have the choice to do so if you wish, but must first sign an agreement in writing.

Prevented overtime

What if your employment contract guarantees you overtime – can your employer prevent it?

If you are guaranteed overtime, your employer can’t stop you working it. If overtime is not guaranteed, they can. However, they cannot discriminate against you, for example, by preventing you from working overtime while allowing other employees to do so.

Working part-time

If you work part-time, you will usually only be paid overtime if you work:

  • Longer hours than set out in your employment contract
  • More than the normal working hours of full-time staff, when those full-time staff would get extra pay for those hours
  • Unsocial hours such as evenings and weekends, when full-time staff would be paid extra

Working antisocial hours

Working evenings and weekends can impact your health, social and family life. However, there is no legal entitlement or set formula to receive extra pay for working those hours.

Your employer may have agreed enhanced hourly rates and shift premiums for working overtime and antisocial hours. If so, this should be recorded in writing.

Time off in lieu

Instead of paying for overtime, your employer may give you time off instead. You and your boss will have to agree when the time can be taken.

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