Leave Management

What is Time Off In Lieu? (TOIL Explained)

Time Off In Lieu explained - understand the benefits of a TOIL policy and how to implement it...
Sean QuinnPosted on Monday, September 11th 2023

You may have heard the phrase 'time off in lieu' (or the acronym 'TOIL') being used to describe a type of leave in your workplace - but what does this mean, and what are the implications for employers and employees of taking TOIL?

What does TOIL mean?

TOIL stands for 'time off in lieu'. This is actually shorthand for 'time off in lieu of overtime' ('in lieu' being French for 'instead of').

Taking time off in lieu means that an employee has chosen to take time away from work in exchange for working overtime on another date, rather than being paid for the extra hours they worked.

Why would you take TOIL?

There are a few reasons someone may take time off in lieu; there can be benefits for both employers and employees to allowing TOIL.

Employees may prefer to take TOIL if they feel they don't usually get enough annual leave - by working a few hours of overtime over the course of a month, they can take a day off without using up precious annual leave entitlement. This day off may be more valuable to them than a small increase in their monthly pay packet.

Time off in lieu can be used by employers to increase employee morale and motivation, as it allows their team to take some much needed rest after a period of hard work. We already know that employees who take their full leave entitlement are more productive and are less likely to take sick leave; so adding additional days of rest might boost your teams output in the long run.

Allowing employees to take TOIL may make more financial sense for employers than paying overtime. If an employee usually receives a special pay rate for overtime (for example, double time or time and a half), their overtime hours can be a very expensive addition to the normal payroll. Allowing them to take paid leave instead avoids this additional cost.

It can also make sense in terms of scheduling; employees will still need their time off in lieu days approved (as with other types of employee leave), so managers can ensure these days are taken when the business can afford to have an employee absent. This means the business benefits from having the employee work extra hours when they're actually needed, and allows them to take leave during quieter periods.

Bear in mind that in the UK, employees do not have a right to be paid for overtime. However, employers must still ensure that employees are being paid above the National Minimum Wage for all the hours they work on average. They also cannot be forced to work more than 48 hours a week, unless they have expressly opted out. If a business does offer a TOIL scheme, they still have a responsibility to ensure the employee's rights are respected.

How does a TOIL policy work?

The exact rules surrounding a business' time off in lieu policy can vary from company to company. It can also vary by department, though there shouldn't be any discrepancy in the benefits that are offered to employees performing the same role.

Some may decide to enact rules about how many hours or day of TOIL can be accrued, and how soon they must be taken. Many employers will require that TOIL days must be used up by the end of the leave year they are earnt in, though some require that TOIL days must be used up within the same month.

Time off should still be requested and recorded in the business' leave management system, as it would be for any other kind of employee leave. This ensures that the business' leave notice period is still abided by and any clashes with existing team leave are accounted for, to minimise disruption.

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