If getting a perfect work/life balance wasn’t already hard enough, a study has shown that British employees are on average working an additional 8.4 hours per week – and 65 per cent of those are doing it unpaid. Although there are plenty of jobs that have always demanded more than just a typical 9-to-5, it’s when unpaid overtime is taken for granted by employers that it starts to become a problem.
How much overtime?
Unless it has been stated otherwise in your contract, employers have no obligation to pay for overtime, although under working time regulations most employees can’t be expected to work more than an average of 48 hours per week. They can choose to exceed this limit, but a written agreement will need to be signed and they can also opt out of the 48-hour week by giving at least seven days’ notice to their employer. However, there are exceptions to this rule, including workers whose working time isn’t measured and who are in control of their own hours.
Part-time employees should not be treated differently when it comes to overtime laws, so if an employer pays its full-time staff for overtime, it should do the same for its part-time staff if their shifts are longer than set out in their contracts, they work longer than the typical hours of full-time employees, or they work unsocial hours for which full-time members of staff would be paid more. It’s also important that when accounting for the additional hours worked, the employee’s average hourly rate doesn’t dip below the National Minimum Wage for workers aged 24 and under, or National Living Wage for those over 25.
Some businesses that don’t offer paid overtime opt instead to give time off in lieu, such as when the time off can be taken, or how much time is appropriate are usually agreed on a case-by-case basis. Offering time off in lieu can be an advantage for both employers and employees –such flexibility can help improve employees’ productivity and, in turn, boost your business’ success.
If you notice your employees are working around the clock, it could be down to your own behaviour. If you’re always burning the midnight oil it could be creating a long hours culture and normalising excessive amounts of overtime. It’s important to consider what example you’re setting to your employees and if it’s not in line with your company values, change it.