Should You Work Unpaid Overtime

Have you ever worked unpaid overtime thinking that you would get rewarded or at least recognized?  It’s not always the case.

Below are some key points to consider when you are not sure whether to work unpaid overtime:

Have you ever worked unpaid overtime thinking that you would get rewarded or at least recognized?  It’s not always the case.

You shouldn’t do unpaid overtime unless your manager/employer shows you full appreciation and it is clear that YOU are doing THEM a favor.

Some employers assume that employees are expected to do free overtime as a token of appreciation for being employed.  Yes, it’s true that some, if not most work contracts have a clause stating that the company is not obliged to pay an employee for extra hours worked.  Even without this, the employer tends to have the leverage if you are not protected by law.  In most cases it does not state that the employee is obliged to work until the work is finished.

If you work unpaid overtime your value is being taken for granted whereas if you work paid overtime, they recognize your value and understand that your time and services need to be paid for.

You should never give the impression that you can work unpaid overtime easily, but only as a favor.  Your employer needs to understand that your time and extra effort is valuable and that they should only ask for your assistance ONLY when it is absolutely necessary.  Perhaps ONLY when they are willing to compensate or reward you for it.

No Favors

An employee once told me that she is happy to help with extra work but only if she was going to be compensated – otherwise it was not “worth her while”.  She blatantly told me that she “wasn’t here to do favors”.  This message was transferred to upper management, they recognized her value and compensated her for the extra hours and efforts.  She eventually went on to receive a promotion and a pay rise.  At the same time, other employees working the same amount of overtime and making the same extra effort, received nothing but a “thank you” email.  In this scenario, who would you rather be?

After reading this informative article, if you are confused whether you should be working unpaid overtime, consider the following points:

  • Is the unpaid overtime getting you closer to receiving a promotion/pay rise?

  • Is the employer rewarding you fairly or maybe compensating you in a different way?

  • Is there something better you could be doing with your time? (Hobbies, resting, time with your family, etc.)

  • If you went home early, would the hours you didn't work be deducted from your salary? If so, how would this be justified?

Remember this: A taxi meter never stops charging until it reaches the destination – so perhaps your work meter should work the same way.

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