Overtime law


What is overtime?

Overtime is time worked by an employee outside of their normal working hours as set out in their employment contract, usually in return for compensation.

What does overtime law say?

Overtime law regulates the terms and conditions associated with overtime work. By law an employer must provide an employee with written details of how they will be compensated for overtime.

Does overtime have to be paid?

Overtime does not necessarily have to be paid: overtime law is somewhat flexible, and allows the employer and employee to agree on a few alternatives to monetary compensation for overtime. For example, if both parties agree the employer can offer the employee time off in lieu of overtime worked. The time off is normally provided at an agreed upon time, rather than allowing the employee to simply miss work at their whim.

What about other benefits?

Overtime law says that unless the employee is required to work overtime as part of the contract, the hours of overtime worked are not generally counted towards sick pay, holiday or maternity/paternity leave. This means that if, for example, the contract of employment stipulates that the employee must work a certain number of overtime hours (at the time of his choosing) each calendar month, those hours will be counted towards the employee sick-pay or holiday pay, but any additional hours will not.

Need legal advice? Let us help

If you are involved in a dispute about overtime, the first point of call should be your employment contract. You may wish to get an employment solicitor to look over your contract, to make sure the provisions are reasonable and not unlawful.

If there is still a dispute, you should contact an employment solicitor. This is especially so if the dispute involves a large amount of unpaid overtime – it may be well worth your while seeking legal advice.

If you would like to obtain legal advice on overtime law, Contact Law can put you in touch with a local employment solicitor free of charge. Please call us on 0800 1777 162 or complete the web-form above and we'll call you back.

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