Home > Ask Our Experts > Contract Says I Must Work Additional Hours Free: What are my Rights?

Contract Says I Must Work Additional Hours Free: What are my Rights?

By: Rachel Collier - Updated: 5 Dec 2016 | comments*Discuss
 
Contract Employee Employer Working Hours

Q.

My contract of employment states that my contracted hours are 37 per week, but that "you will be expected to work additional hours to meet the needs of the business and to achieve your expected performance standards. No overtime will be paid for these additional hours".

Does this give my employer the right to demand me to work for free week in, week out?

(K.G, 7 May 2009)

A.

Legalese

A standard UK employment contract will detail an employee’s regular working hours, and will also request that should the role demand it, the employee work additional hours unpaid. If that’s got you worried, don’t panic. UK Working Time Regulations state that the hours worked must not exceed 48 hours per week (unless you’ve voluntarily opted-out of the Regulations – some occupations may require that you do so). Therefore if you have not signed the opt-out then you cannot be asked to work more than a 48-hour week and, indeed, if you did so your company would be contravening employment law.

Money Talks

So far, so good - you’re happy that you’re not being asked to work in excess of 48 hours per week, but what about payment for the additional hours you have worked? You’re giving up your personal time for free, right? Right, unfortunately. Where overtime payment is concerned your employer is not legally obliged to compensate you for working extra hours, though where payment is granted it must meet or exceed Minimum Wage. For this reason you will need to check your individual employment contract for details, since overtime conditions vary from business to business. Your employer should set out the details of your employment in a contract within two months of your first working day, so if you don’t yet have one, now is the time to ask.

Above and Beyond

If you feel that you are owed some compensation for working extra hours but your employer does not offer overtime payment, ask about taking some time off in lieu. Often agreed on an unofficial basis, time off in lieu might not be quite as satisfying as financial remuneration but at least it might afford you the occasional duvet day in return for your dedication.

This guidance will provide you with background information and a point at which to begin communications, but if you find that after speaking with your manager you are still being asked to work too many additional hours, you shouldn’t hesitate to take the matter further. Make notes of the extra hours you’ve worked, detailing when and for how long, and approach an employee representative or member of the HR team. Don’t worry about rocking the boat or putting your job at risk – it’s important for you and your colleagues that your employer sticks to the rules.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
@Lulu - this is pretty normal as an assistant manager in retail. What the terms of your contract is saying between the lines is that you must work a minimum of 42 hours and the additional work is unpaid. I've worked in retail as a manager and I'd clock up many extra hours unpaid, it goes with the territory. As does not having proper breaks, you take them when you can i.e in a non-busy period of when someone can cover you. Jojo
JHF78 - 6-Dec-16 @ 10:56 AM
I am an assistant manager and my contract states that I must work 42 hours per week or to meet business needs. I often need to work 50-60 hours a week without any extra money. Also I do not get to take my break properly. Is this allowed? Many thanks
Lulu - 5-Dec-16 @ 3:42 PM
chris - Your Question:
In my contract it states when required I have to work at least 6 hours a week extra when required, this is now every week.He has now said the area manager has told him he has to cut 280 hours a month off staff hours and I may have to start working my day off for no pay.The manager has blocked any holidays until October, last year I lost 9 days holidays because he never signed them off.the company seriously needs investigating I am sure their breaking lots of laws

Our Response:
I think in this case you should give ACAS a call directly.
WelfareAtWork - 22-Jun-16 @ 11:15 AM
In my contract it states when required I have to work at least 6 hours a week extra when required,this is now every week. He has now said the area manager has told him he has to cut 280 hours a month off staff hours and I may have to start working my day off for no pay. The manager has blocked any holidays until October, last year I lost 9 days holidays because he never signed them off. the company seriously needs investigating I am sure their breaking lots of laws
chris - 21-Jun-16 @ 1:10 PM
How about part time hours though? My contract is for 20 hours also stating that extra hours may be required with no remuneration. Should I be entitled to time off in lieu and surely I would not be expected to work up to 48 hours for free? I ended up working an 8 hour day on one particular day with only a 10 minute break ( due to the timescale of the work required not the employer banning a break) but I was asked to stay late on the day not given any notice. My workload is too much for the allotted hours so I end up working over my hours every week. How do I stand, can I refuse to work the extra hours as the employer is getting away with paying for less hours and I am effectively getting less than the minimum wage with the extra hours I have worked?
Kazza - 13-Mar-12 @ 1:34 AM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the WelfareAtWork website. Please read our Disclaimer.