Overtime is a term used to describe hours worked over a legal limit or in excess of convention. In many nations, employees may not work more than 40 hours in a week or eight hours in a day. Overtime hours must be compensated at a different rate, acknowledging that overtime puts additional strain and stress on an employee. Conversationally, “overtime” may refer both to these overtime hours and to the additional compensation. Typically, this compensation is time and a half pay, although in some areas it may be double time.
People who work full time jobs are often at risk of accruing overtime hours because any small deviation from their schedule can cause them to run over. For example, if someone needs to come in early for a conference call with a different time zone, or stay late to finish something, he or she will run into overtime over the course of the week without an schedule adjustment such as a long lunch.
Many companies try to avoid running their employees into overtime because of the additional compensation which is required. This may be accomplished by not compensating workers for breaks and lunches, or by closely monitoring employee schedules. Because overtime requires additional pay, and employee usually must request permission to run into overtime, or the employee may be reprimanded for not keeping better track of his or her hours. In some instances where additional work is obviously needed, employees may have an agreement which allows them overtime hours during periods of demand, such as the weeks leading up to a major product release..
Because the rights of workers are a major issue in many nations, most countries have strict laws about overtime. An employee must be compensated at a higher rate for overtime hours, for example, and employees cannot be fired or disciplined for refusing to work overtime hours. Arrangements such as giving employees paid time off in lieu of overtime are not uncommon, but they are also usually illegal. If an employer asks you to do this, you may politely decline.
In some very specific sectors and under certain circumstances, an employee may work more than the conventional number of hours without receiving overtime pay. These types of arrangements are most common in the technology sector, where developers may work 10 or 12 hour days at the normal pay rate. This practice has been criticized by some people, as work loads of this type are immensely stressful and hard on the employee. Although industry convention may accept these arrangements as reasonable, they are considered by many to be somewhat inhumane.