What you need to know about Overtime

What is overtime?

Overtime is any work you do outside of your ordinary hours of employment.

When this applies, and how much you should get paid, depends on your workplace award or agreement.

But in general, you deserve to be paid for your extra time, which can include work done:

  • Beyond your ordinary work hours.
  • Outside your agreed number of hours.
  • Outside the spread of your ordinary hours. (The spread of hours is the times of the day ordinary hours can be worked. For example, between 7am- 7pm).

An award, enterprise agreement or other registered agreement will set out when overtime rates apply.

To find out what your normal hours should be, contact your AWU delegate, or join your union!

Time Off in Lieu

Workers can agree to “time off in lieu” of paid overtime (or TOIL).

This means that if you work overtime, you can ask or be asked to be compensated for the overtime hours by taking that time off at a later time, rather than having it paid.

But if you decide to take time off in lieu, you may forgo any penalty rates you may have earned with normal overtime, depending on your agreement or award.

The Fair Work Commission also recently ruled that workers have a clear right to elect for payment at any time, and any time off in lieu agreement must be in writing between employee and employer.

There are other strict conditions around agreements to take time off in lieu.

To find out more contact your AWU delegate, or join your union!

Do I have to work overtime?

Your employer can ask you to work overtime under certain circumstances, but the request must be reasonable, and take the following into account:

  • Any risk to health and safety from working the extra hours.
  • The worker’s personal situation, including family responsibilities.
  • The workplace’s needs.
  • If the worker is entitled to receive overtime payments or penalty rates for working the extra hours.
  • If they are paid at a higher rate on the understanding that they work some overtime.
  • If the employee was given enough notice that they may have to work overtime.
  • If the employee has already stated they can’t ever work overtime.
  • The usual patterns of work in the industry.

Otherwise, you can refuse to work overtime if the request is unreasonable.

To find out more about reasonable overtime, contact your AWU delegate, or join your union!

What if I’m not being paid for my overtime?

You should not have to work overtime for free. You should be paid for your time whether you are working long hours, taking work home or having to work on days off.

The work days we enjoy now are the result of 165 years of union struggle.

Up until the 1850’s, many faced incredibly long, inhumane shifts, often up to 16 hours each day.

But in 1856, Victorian stonemasons won an eight-hour working day, a world first in the struggle for improved working conditions and a fair split between work, rest and play.

By 1948 Australian unions had won a five-day, 40 hour week, and most of us now work a 38-hour week.

The AWU takes your work hours very seriously, and will insist your employer pay you overtime if you have to work longer.

So, are you being paid for your overtime, or just need to find out more?

If so, contact your AWU delegate, or join your union!

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