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The Pros and Cons to Working Overtime

David has over 15 years of supervisory experience and has extensive knowledge of how to handle personnel issues across many areas.

Sometimes you could be the only person in the office putting in some overtime.

Sometimes you could be the only person in the office putting in some overtime.

What is Overtime?

Overtime is simply working over your normally scheduled hours for the day or week. For example, if your schedule is set at 40 hours per week, any more time past that is considered to be overtime. There are pros and cons to working overtime, as well as ways to prepare for overtime work.

This article will cover the following topics regarding overtime:

  • Types of Overtime
  • Pros of Working Overtime
  • Cons of Working Overtime
  • How to Prepare for Overtime
  • Experiences in Overtime

Author's Experience

For 14 years I worked in a job that required overtime. I've worked all sorts of overtime shifts, working up to 16 hours in a day. I supervised multiple offices that consistently required overtime.

Ever Worked Overtime?

Types of Overtime

There are various types and reasons overtime could be worked. These are things you will want to consider when looking for a job or preparing for a job that requires overtime.

  • Extended hours overtime. Those in shift work could be working in an operation that is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If someone on the next shift calls out sick, then you would have to stay over to cover part of their shift. In turn, if someone prior to your shift calls out sick, then you may be asked to come in early to help cover.
  • Weekend overtime. There are times you could be called in on a weekend to help cover a shift or when a project is due. If your days off are during the week, then you could be called in at that time as well.
  • Holiday overtime. In some cases working a holiday is considered overtime, and you could be paid even more if it's your regular shift to work.

About Overtime Pay

The Pros of Working Overtime

There are some pros to accepting a job that requires overtime.

  • More pay. This is one of the biggest reasons to work overtime. If you receive an hourly rate of pay, then you will just be earning more money. Some employers will pay you time and a half or twice your rate of pay for overtime hours worked.
  • It makes you look good. If you volunteer and eagerly ask to work overtime, your boss will know to rely on you when it's needed, and that makes you look good in their eyes.
  • Can get caught up at work. One of the advantages of working overtime is the opportunity to get caught up at work on some of your duties. I have taken advantage of this many times.
  • Some overtime is built into your schedule. If you work in an office that is always on 12 hour shifts, you may find yourself with built in overtime, almost always guaranteeing that you will earn overtime pay.
  • Opportunity to learn more. The more you work, the more you learn the job. This will only help you progress further in your employment since there is a chance you could learn something new by working outside your regular hours.
  • Overtime hours can go into future time off. Some jobs allow their employees to take the overtime hours worked into future paid time off. For example, if you work four hours of overtime, you may be able to turn that into six hours of time off if your employer pays time and a half.
The more overtime hours you put in, the more money you could be paid.

The more overtime hours you put in, the more money you could be paid.

Medical Issues Due to Overtime

These are just some of the possible medical issues that could arise if you end up working too much overtime.

Medical Issues


Heart Problems


Eye Sight Issues

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Loss of Sleep


Change in Personality

The Cons of Working Overtime

Unfortunately, there are more cons than pros when working at a job that requires overtime.

  • Overtime may be required. Perhaps you didn't read the fine print in the job description, but you may be required to work overtime whether or not you want to. If you fail to work the overtime requested, you could even lose your job.
  • Those who earn a salary usually do not earn overtime pay. If you are in a salaried position, then more than likely you will not earn any overtime pay at all, but can still be expected to work overtime. Though those in a salary position usually earn enough to make up for the overtime hours worked.
  • It always looks bad if you can't work overtime. If you say no to your boss when asked to work overtime, your boss will probably be annoyed by it. It can't be helped, as they asked you to work overtime for a reason. A good supervisor will understand and hopes that you will next time.
  • Once you volunteer for overtime, you'll always be expected to volunteer for future overtime. If you are one of those people who eagerly accept overtime, it will be expected you do so in the future. Your boss may come to rely on you, which may be good or bad.
  • Your health could suffer. If you are working 20 hours of overtime per week, you could find yourself getting a lot more tired or even sick. Health can suffer as a result of overtime.
  • Your family life suffers. Obviously the more you are at work, the less you see your family. If you are in a job that requires a lot of overtime, you will see your family a lot less.
  • You could pay more in taxes. Lots of overtime may move you into another tax bracket, which means the government could just take more money from you, maybe not making the overtime worth it.
  • Eventually you could start to hate your job. If you always feel like you are at work because of the overtime, then you will start to hate your job. The work could be fine, but with the fear of always being asked to work overtime, you may feel like you can't enjoy your life.
  • Relying on the overtime. Too many people rely on overtime to make ends meet. While you could see many overtime shifts being handed to you, if money gets tight in an organization, the overtime could dry up. It could be weeks, months, or even years before overtime could be offered again.
Getting lots of sleep is important for surviving an overtime shift.

Getting lots of sleep is important for surviving an overtime shift.

How to Prepare for Overtime

There are ways to prepare for a job that requires overtime to make the process easier for you, your employer, and your family.

  • Ask how much overtime will be required. Before you start a job or accept a position, ask how much overtime will be required. Even if a job description states overtime will be required, those who hired you may be able to provide more information. Once you know how much, you can decide if you want the position or not.
  • Prepare your family for the amount of overtime you have to work. Explain to your children why you may not be around as much, and how you will make it up to them if you miss an important event. Spouses tend to understand unless it's so much overtime you never see one another.
  • Get plenty of sleep. One of the banes of working overtime is sometimes working in the late night or early morning hours. If you don't get enough sleep, it will make that overtime shift that much harder.
  • Take your breaks at work. Even if you don't expect to be working overtime every day, take your breaks when they are scheduled. You don't want to be required to work an overtime shift at the end of your day only after you failed to take your breaks.
  • Be prepared to say no. If your boss asks you to work overtime, and you have already worked a lot or have something planned, then be prepared to say no. You should also state your reason, but don't lie. A good boss will be understanding.
  • Review the laws governing overtime and your employer's policies. There are always conflicting opinions if your employer can make you work overtime. In a lot of cases they can, but research the laws to see what your employer can and can't do, and what your rights are. Looking at your job description or contract may be able to tell you if overtime is required.
  • Don't complain when overtime is required. If you accepted the position, knowing that overtime was going to be required, then don't complain when you are asked or directed to work it. That will just make you look bad.
  • Help others out by working overtime. If you work overtime one day to cover for someone, then one of your other co-workers will work overtime for you. It's not required, but it's an unspoken rule that co-workers usually follow. So do the same.

How Much Overtime Have You Worked?

Experiences in Overtime

There are a few standout situations I was involved in regarding overtime:

  1. I was working in an office that was open 24/7, so a lot of overtime was required. In fact, when someone needed a day off, they had to find someone to work for them if they wanted to take the day off. Well, being the good employee I was, I was always helping cover for other people. One, to get the extra pay, and two, so they would cover for me. There was one person I covered for a lot. I don't recall how much, but multiple times, as this person took a lot of time off. The one time I needed the person to cover my shift, they refused. I was quite upset and learned you can't rely on people to cover for you when you cover for them.
  2. In a position I promoted to, I advised my boss I wouldn't be working any overtime just because we were overwhelmed. My justification is that we have vacant positions open that they needed to fill, plus, I was keeping up on my duties without a problem. I could tell my boss was taken aback by my statement, but accepted it. There was no justification to having me work overtime if I didn't need it.
  3. I worked in a unit where staff would get into arguments about overtime. When the overtime schedule was posted, those working at that time had access to it first, leaving those off at the time being unable to get any overtime themselves. Those who weren't working felt it wasn't fair. In the end we had to develop an employee list by seniority and only let people sign up for a certain number of shifts at a time as we went down the seniority list.
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This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2013 David Livermore


Kalpana Iyer from India on October 31, 2020:

I am not a big fan of overtime work. It cuts into your work-life balance. But if someone genuinely needs help, I wouldn't mind staying on. I remember a colleague wasting his time for most of the day and dumping his extra work on me which required overtime. This was not okay with me. Some people misuse it to dump work on others.

Lucia Vazquez from Valencia on July 15, 2015:

To work overtime once in a while I don´t mind, but when it´s becoming more frequent and it´s affecting my family and personal life it's not ok.

Lou Cannon from British Columbia, Canada on December 30, 2014:

I wish I would have found this hub before I started my last job! Ewwwie on the OT

Trudy Cooper from Hampshire, UK on December 01, 2014:

Very interesting, overtime for me is a no go where possible, been there, done that, you do need to do it however if you are trying to climb the ladder in your workplace as this is seen as being active!

Guyene Jackson from USA on September 22, 2013:

Overtime is good for company and employee as well if company paying good remuneration for their extra time.

I do not love to work overtime because enjoying rest time with my parents gives me more pleasure that overtime money can never provide.

Jatinder Joshi from Wasaga Beach, Ontario, Canada on September 13, 2013:

Congratulations on being nominated HOTD.

Very informative. Thank you for sharing.

Janner53 from Devon, UK on September 10, 2013:

Congrats on the HOTD.

Yes a very interesting post, I can relate to so much of what you have posted.

Emily Nemchick from Phoenix, AZ on September 10, 2013:

Interesting post. My husband turned down a job recently which would have given him a very significant raise because he knew it would require frequent overtime of 20 hours or more per week. He used to come home exhausted at the end of a day after hours of overtime for his previous job.

Reading this hub makes me glad he didn't take the job - in his current job there is rarely overtime, but when there is he gets 150% of his regular hourly salary.

Johnne Baula from Philippines on September 10, 2013:

Uhmm, I just want to ask if have you been indulge with a job has a O.T. in the start but as the time passed by the O.T. you worked for well be gone or what I mean is, your O.T. is not payable at all. Because the thing that you haven't reached the target of the company.

Its really weird right? Company is not good enough indeed.

JR Krishna from India on September 10, 2013:

I hate overtime. Because in India we have to work 8 hours on all the six days of the week. I feel that itself is overtime.

It is tiring by the end of the week

You have given some important pointers here.

Voted up.

Moronke Oluwatoyin on September 10, 2013:

I love work and overtime is not a problem for me but as you said, the family and ones health will suffer if you opt for it.

Thanks for the tutorial.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on September 10, 2013:

I so know about working a job that requires and not only expects over time. I was a teacher for 40 years and overtime was the name of the game.

I spent more hours in overtime than I did in the classroom.

Thanks for sharing your great post.

Angels are on the way ps

topclasscat from London on September 08, 2013:

Great post! I don't mind to work over-time provided there are some rewards (as a rule). But this is not all about money. If you love what you do then you care about how you do things, hence you can stay over-time making sure the things are done in a right way!

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