Time and Attendance

What are Rules on Employee Overtime in Ireland?

What are the rules for overtime in Ireland? In this article, we look at the employer obligations and possible concerns or consequences around paying overtime....
Sean QuinnPosted on Monday, January 8th 2024

Overtime can be a necessity, when businesses get busy, but it is important for employers to understand what their responsibilities are for paying employees overtime and keeping on top of their approved overtime hours.

Working Hours

The maximum average working week for most employees cannot exceed 48 hours.

This doesn’t mean employees can never work over 48 hours but their average cannot work for more than 48 hours a week. The average number of working hours is calculated by the number of hours worked each week and then averaging these hours over a set period. For most employees this average period is 4 months.

What is Overtime?

For employees that have normal working hours, overtime usually means any time they work beyond these hours.Normal working hours are the hours fixed by an employment contract.

How are working hours governed?

The law on working time and breaks is set out in the  Organisation of Working Time Act 1997.

Employers must keep a detailed record of employee’s working hours. This is set out in the Organisation of Working Time (Records) (Prescribed Form and Exemptions) Regulations 2001.

Are employers required to pay overtime?

There is no legal obligation to pay for working extra hours and no statutory levels of overtime pay.

But do employers pay for overtime?

Many employers do pay employees overtime and at higher rates of pay.

Employees can check their employment contract to confirm whether they must work overtime and at what rate overtime is paid (if any). Certain sectors of employment have higher rates of pay for overtime than for normal hours.

Working on Sundays

If employees work on Sundays, they are entitled to a benefit, such as extra pay, normally this is set out in the employee contract.

If no agreement about extra pay has been made, then an employer is obliged to offer one of the following;

  • A reasonable pay increase
  • A reasonable allowance
  • Reasonable paid time off work

What are employees entitled to?

Employers must tell employees the starting and finishing times at least 24 hours before the employee begins work.

Employers must also give at least 24 hours’ notice of an employee's working hours for each day they have to work (particularly if an employee does not work every day).

An employer should put up a notice in an obvious place on a day in which employees are working.

If an employer requires an employee to work additional hours, they must give 24 hours’ notice. An employer can, however, waive this requirement in unexpected/emergency cases, such as if an employer requires an employee to cover for another employee who is off sick.

Work must take place within the referenced hours laid out by an employer and if the minimum 24 hours’ notice has not been given an employee can refuse to work without any negative effects.

Can employees be forced to work overtime?

Overtime should be set out in the employment contract but if an employee refuses, they could be at risk of misconduct, as their refusal could be interpreted as refusing a reasonable request of the employer (if the employer had followed the correct procedure as set out above.)

If an employee works a low-hour contract of employment and has to regularly work more hours than contracted to, they can request for a change in their contract terms to reflect actual hours worked.

As an employer how long do I have to keep overtime records?

Employers must keep a record of their employees' working time for 3 years. If employers do not keep these records and found guilty of an offence, they can be fined up to €1,900.

It's important for both employers and employees in Ireland to be aware of these regulations and to ensure compliance with Irish employment law. For specific legal advice or detailed information, consulting a legal expert in Irish employment law is advisable.

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