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Working Overtime: Know Your Rights

In general, employment contracts have a mention of the basic working hours. The contract can also include a clause for doing overtime.

According to employment law, overtime implies any extra work done over the basic working hours. UK regulations mean workers in the UK cannot be made to work for more than 48 hours a week on an average.

However, they may agree to work longer provided such an agreement is made in writing and signed by both the employer and the worker. In this post, we take a closer look at various aspects of working overtime and the worker rights.

Overtime Pay

In general, there is no legal right to get paid for working overtime, neither is there any minimum statutory levels that define overtime pay.

Having said this, the average pay rate of a worker must not fall below the National Minimum Wage. Your contract of employment will usually include the details of overtime pay rates and how they are determined.

While some employers may pay extra to their employees for working over bank holidays or weekends, others may choose to refuse overtime pay altogether.

It is also important to know that working out on holiday pay or paid paternity, maternity or adoption leave doesn’t usually qualify as overtime. However, this is taken into account while drafting the contract of employment and there is a separate clause for deciding overtime.

Requesting Time Off Instead Of Overtime Pay

Nowadays, instead of offering overtime pay, some employers offer ‘time off in lieu‘ or compensatory days-off from work. Such an arrangement is generally agreed between the employer and the worker.

Furthermore, any time that you decide to take off will usually be the day that suits your employer. While some companies have set regulations on when compensatory time off can be requested, others may arrange this on a case by case basis.

Limits to Working Overtime

It is important to know that you only have to work overtime if your employment contract says so. Having said this, even if your contract includes the conditions for working overtime, you cannot be forced to work for more than 48 hours on average in a week.

Alternatively, if you are told to work overtime but you do not want to, you must take it up with your employer in an informal manner.

Working Time Limits

As per employment law regulations, your employment contract needs to have a clause relating to overtime, otherwise, your employer can stop you from working extra.

Your employer, however, must not bully you or discriminate against you, by letting your colleagues work overtime and denying you the opportunity. Furthermore, your contract of employment must specify what your normal working days and timings would be, and this may exclude or include working on Sundays.

Usually, employees working in retail shops and in betting premises choose to opt out of working on Sundays.

Overtime For Part-time Workers

Part-time workers are usually paid overtime by their employers unless specified otherwise in their contract of employment. In general, part-time workers are entitled to be paid overtime when they work:

  • longer hours than those included in their contract (although some employers may pay them according to their normal rate);
  • more than the normal working hours of full-time employees (in such cases, part-time workers must receive extra payments if their full-time counterparts receive them);
  • unsocial hours for which the full-time staff gets more pay;

Overall,employment law declares that both part-time and full-time workers must receive equal work opportunities and salaries.

Changes to patterns of work

In some cases, your employer might have to change your work conditions or patterns due to any business or economic factor.

The contract of employment, however, can only be changed if both the employee and the employer agree to this. If your employer proceeds to make such contractual modifications without your consent or knowledge, it will be termed as a breach of contract and may qualify for an employment tribunal claim.

How Your Overtime Is Managed

First, you need to check your contract of employment for details pertaining to overtime, especially how is it worked out and what rates of payment are applicable.

Remember that your employer must provide the written terms and conditions in the form of a contract of employment to you, within two months of starting work.