Overtime Laws in the UK: Employees’ Rights

Overtime is defined as time being worked outside of an employee’s normal hours. Normal hours would be defined by the employee’s employment contract. In this blog, we’re discussing overtime laws and how you can stay on the right side of them.

Employers don’t have to pay for overtime. However, when taking into account the total number of hours worked, the employee’s pay must not fall below the National Minimum Wage, in accordance with overtime laws.

Employment contracts would usually define details of overtime, pay rates and how the overtime pay is calculated.

Part-time workers

Generally speaking, part-time employees must not be treated in a different or poorer way than full-time employees with regards to overtime laws. Unless stated differently in the employment contract, employers will have to pay their part-time staff overtime in the following cases:

  • Their shifts cover longer hours than set out in their employment contract
  • They work longer than the usual hours of full time staff & if full time staff receive additional pay for these hours
  • They work during unsocial hours for which full time members of staff would receive more

Can overtime laws be used to force employees to work further hours?

Employees will have to work overtime only if their employment contract states so. Overtime laws dictate that they cannot be forced to work more than an average of 48 hours per week.

Employees can agree to work longer than this limit, but in this case, they will need to sign a written agreement, this is an important document in overtime laws. Employees can opt out of the 48-hour working week by giving notice in writing to the employer. This notice needs to be at least 7 days, but a longer notice can be set by the employer (3 months maximum).

Can employees be stopped from working overtime?

Employers can stop employees from working overtime unless their employment contracts guarantee them overtime. However, employers should keep in mind that they cannot discriminate against anyone through overtime laws. That means they cannot ask some employees to stop working overtime and not others.

Time Off In Lieu (TOIL)

Some employers decide to give time off instead of pay for overtime done. This is known as ‘time off in lieu’ (TOIL). The terms need to be agreed between the employer and the employee (when the time can be taken etc).

Employment contracts need to be carefully crafted so that both employees and employers know what their rights and responsibilities are. Overtime laws are something we can help with! Just contact us if you’d like to arrange a chat.

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