Overtime is a great way to earn a little extra money, especially when times are hard like they are right now. But it can also be difficult to understand and may lead to confusion. Understanding your rights where overtime is concerned is vital to make sure you get the pay you deserve and aren’t exploited by your employer.

What exactly is overtime?

Overtime is work above and beyond your contracted hours that are paid at either your standard hourly rate or an enhanced one dependent on the company you work for.

For most people, this will mean starting or finishing their shift early or later or even picking up extra shifts on days they do not normally work.

What laws relate to overtime in the UK?

All rights in terms of working hours, including those deemed overtime, are set out in the Working Time Regulations. The most important limitation to bear in mind in the UK is that an employer cannot force an employee to work more than 48 hours per week, although an employee can opt-out of this rule.

How is overtime pay calculated for employees?

The rate of overtime pay you receive as an employee will be set out clearly in the terms and conditions of your contract. There is no legal requirement for your employer to pay extra money for overtime so long as your total wage does not drop below the national minimum wage, but most will offer incentives to cover the extra hours, such as increased rates of pay. If they do pay an incentivized rate, then you will get this multiplied by however many hours overtime you work.

What are the rights of an employee with respect to overtime pay?

Again, your rights will be dictated by the Working Time Regulations and your own contract. As mentioned previously, your employer cannot force you to work more than 48 hours a week unless you opt-out of the rule. In terms of pay, the rate you receive will be dictated in your contract and your employer will be obliged to pay this or be deemed in breach of contract.

How are overtime pay and holiday pay different?

Holiday pay is calculated at an employee’s normal pay rate. Overtime can be incentivized. If an employee is contracted to work overtime, then the pay from this should be included in the calculations for their holiday pay.

Is overtime contractual?

It can be. It depends on your employer. There are 3 different types of overtime: non-contractual, contractual and guaranteed, and contractual but not guaranteed. If you have a contract that states you have to work overtime then this is something that will be expected.

Can employees refuse to work overtime?

Not if they are contracted to do so. If their contract states, they must work overtime then refusing to do so could lead to them being dismissed.

What is a reasonable amount of overtime?

While an employer cannot make you work more than 48 hours a week, you can choose to work as many as you want. Obviously, your own circumstances will dictate how much this will be.

Can employees sue employers if they are not paid for overtime?

If they have a contract or agreement that states that they should get paid for overtime then yes, an employee could sue their employer for not paying them.

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