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Is it legal to not pay overtime?

As part of our Is it legal to... Insights series, we enter the world of employment law and explore overtime arrangements.

What is overtime?

Overtime is when a worker works beyond their contracted hours.

Whilst there is no legal requirement in the UK for employers to pay their workers overtime, they must ensure that the average pay for the total hours worked does not fall below the National Minimum Wage.

It is advisable that you review your employment contract in the first instance, as each employer will approach overtime differently.

For example, some employers may require workers to work overtime from time to time without additional pay, whereas other employers may not offer overtime at all.

On occasion, an employer might even offer overtime with a higher pay rate during busy periods.

If your contract is silent or unclear on overtime, your employer might have a separate policy dealing with this instead.

What are the alternatives to additional pay?

Some employers may offer you time off work instead of additional pay in return for working overtime which is typically referred to as ‘time off in lieu’.

How much overtime can I be asked to work?

This will depend on numerous factors such as your age and what industry you work in, but generally most workers should not be required to work more than 48 hours per week on average over a 17-week period. (Working Time Regulations).

You can voluntarily choose to opt out of the 48- hour week and any decision to do so should be set out in writing, often forming part of your employment contract.

How we can help

Our Employment team here at Fosters Solicitors are always happy to provide professional advice and assistance on employment rights and employer obligations.

Please call them on 01603 620508 or complete our enquiry form below.

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    This article was produced on the 13th March 2024 by our Employment team for information purposes only and should not be construed or relied upon as specific legal advice.