Can employees be required to work paid or unpaid overtime?

Employees can be required to work overtime, whether paid or unpaid, only if this is provided for in their contract of employment.

An employer that wishes to require employees to work overtime should ensure that express provision for compulsory overtime is included in the contract of employment that it offers to employees. The contract should also set out whether or not employees will be paid for working overtime and, if they will, the rate at which it will be payable. Alternatively, the contract could provide for time off in lieu of any overtime worked. There is no automatic right to pay or time off in lieu for an employee who is required under their contract to work overtime. However, the employer must ensure that employees' average pay does not fall below the relevant national minimum wage rate.

It is often the case that employees are expected to work unpaid overtime from time to time, to meet the reasonable requirements of the business. This is more common for employees in non-manual roles, who are on a salary, than for employees who are paid on an hourly basis.