Should I be paid overtime and, if so, how does it work?

Whether you are entitled to be paid for overtime and at what rate is a matter for agreement between you and your employer. If there is an agreement, it becomes an express term in the contract of employment. The method of pay calculation should be set out in a written statement of particulars, which should be issued by the employer to you within eight weeks of starting work.

A collective agreement between the union and employer may specify the overtime payable. The contract may require some employees, often salaried staff, to work overtime without extra payment. It is usual for employees paid by the hour to be paid for overtime worked.

Where payment is made for overtime, the hours worked should be recorded by the employer and payment due calculated in accordance with the contract of employment at the agreed rate, whether that is the standard or an enhanced hourly rate. Payment is usually made a week or month in arrears.

Every year, thousands of workers work unpaid overtime for their employer. In 2017, the TUC calculated that in the previous 12 months, workers contributed a staggering £33 billion pounds worth of unpaid overtime to the economy.

Use the TUC's unpaid overtime calculator to work out how much of your time you are donating to your employer. Every year in February, the TUC marks Work your Proper Hours Day, which is the first day of the year on which the average person doing unpaid overtime stops working for free and starts earning for themselves.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.