I have been doing the same overtime for several years, my company now want to stop me from doing this and let other people do it who earn less money. Can they do this?

  • 80
    It's not clear to me why you might think that they could not limit your overtime. I assume you're still being paid for whatever 'normal' time you're expected to work? Could you clarify your question a little?
    – brhans
    May 1, 2019 at 13:28
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    The usual rules for overtime are (in my jurisdiction)that overtime needs to be ordered, hence you working (payable) overtime could be stopped by no longer ordering you to work overtime ... May 1, 2019 at 17:09
  • 10
    Yes and there might be legal limits on the hours you can work overtime regardless of who you are working for.
    – Tom
    May 1, 2019 at 18:06
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    As usual, if you ask if someone can do something you must add a location tag! I could write an answer to the question but it's pointless because it's not likely that you're covered by Swedish laws.
    – pipe
    May 1, 2019 at 18:46
  • 9
    Which region are you located in and are you talking about paid overtime? May 1, 2019 at 21:00

8 Answers 8


You need to check what's in your contract - but broadly speaking if this is overtime in the sense of being outside of your contracted hours then yes they can.

  • 54
    Not only can they, but it's a very typical budget-vs-pace of work decision to make in a business. Is the extra work accomplished in overtime worth the extra cost?
    – dwizum
    May 1, 2019 at 13:06
  • 45
    Not only can they, in some places that may have to depending on what hours are being worked, the nature of the work, rules such as those set down in the European Working Time Directive, agreements made with national or more local unions, ...., and any number of other reasons. May 1, 2019 at 16:15
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    @Borgh: It is definitely a legal thing. In virtually all jurisdictions, labor law is binding. Laws cannot be modified by employment contract terms. And for instance in my jurisdiction (Netherlands), if you consistently work overtime, that by law becomes an established right. Contracts can not deviate from that.
    – MSalters
    May 2, 2019 at 12:00
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    @Acccumulation In at least some jurisdictions (I believe this is generally true in the US), the employer owes wages for any work performed. You have to pay even for unauthorized overtime if the employee does the work. It's up to you as the employer to affirmatively enforce a "no unauthorized overtime" rule; you can't just wait for four hours and enjoy the benefit of the sign-twirling without paying for it or putting a stop to it. May 2, 2019 at 21:23
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    @Acccumulation: Also, in the US it's illegal for any for-profit business to accept volunteer labor. May 3, 2019 at 4:56

Yes they can do this. I used to work at a company where some employees were purposefully doing unnecessary overtime work as a means to make more money. The company took notice of this and required any overtime work to be first approved by a manager. The extra hours that these employees were working was not worth the extra salary that the company had to pay them. This is likely the reason why your company is allowing your coworkers that are currently making less money to work overtime. It is a necessary overtime and they want to pay the least amount possible for it.

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    "It is a necessary overtime and they want to pay the least amount possible for it." I wouldn't make that assumption. Often, employees who earn less need extra money, so it could be that employees asked for overtime work, OP was hogging it all and business responded by trying to spread it out amongst all interested employees.
    – MlleMei
    May 2, 2019 at 9:40

Unless you're covered by a contract that says otherwise, yes, they can do that. The company is not under any obligation to grant you overtime (even if they've granted it in the past). If they want people who get paid less to do it instead, that's their prerogative.


No they can't. (if you live in the Netherlands.)

If you work more hours then what's in your contract for a prolongued time, then after 13 weeks there's a legal presumption that your actual worktime is longer then what's in your contract and the employer has to schedule you for the average of hours you made in the 13 weeks.

Something that is very common in the Netherlands is that in the Care industry a lot of women have 24 hour contracts, 3 days/week. What often arises is staff shortage and you see people on a 24 hour contract working 32 or even 40 hours for years on end.

To protect those kind of employees from for instance punishment by employer (I will cut your hours for ....) but also for unemployment benefits. (If you work 40 hours for years but only 24 in your contract, you want to make sure unemployment benefits are calculated on 40 hours work.)

I made this answer because you don't specify where you live, and the law is wildly different from country to country.

So what you have to do is: consult a lawyer.


You haven't specified a location nor any relevant information from your contract, so we can't say if they can or can't. But in most cases, yes they can, or rather you can't just work overtime unless specifically told to work overtime. In the vast majority of situations whether or not to work overtime is not the employee's decision.

Think about it, does it make sense for someone to mow their neighbour's lawn and demand payment for it? No, so then why should it be normal to do work outside your specified hours and expect to get compensated? If nobody asks you to work more than your contractually obligated hours there's really no reason to expect that it's allowed or wanted.


It's not "your overtime" it is work required by the company for which someone might need to do overtime to complete. So yes, they can allocate that work to whomever they want.

But more importantly you need to pay attention to why this is happening.

I've seen toxic management use overtime as a bonus for toxic behaviour (like spying on staff on behalf of management and being rewarded with overtime). I've also seen toxic staff hold on to overtime and "hog it" not letting other staff have a chance of getting it for a bit of extra money. When overtime is involved a lot of corruption can happen.

Your manager could be avoiding potential corruption allegations by sharing it around rather than let you have all of it.


As the other answers, yes they can.

But, what happens if the situation arises where that work is not getting completed due to the lack of experience and they want you to come back to do overtime? Obviously "overtime" is not compulsory...

Perhaps then you get to negociate, saying "I'm used to having more free time now..., so how are you going to motivate me to come back to overtime" ?

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    I don't understand your conclusion that "overtime is not compulsory". If the company demands you to work overtime, and you choose to extort them instead, they'd be well within their rights to fire you. May 1, 2019 at 16:12
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    @NuclearWang a company can ask you to work overtime, "overtime" being hours considered extra to the contracted hours. To whit, you don't have to accept to do them... They can't force you to do overtime - unless there are some specific clauses in your contract - which one hopes, you would have read,....
    – Solar Mike
    May 1, 2019 at 16:39
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    An employer can't really ever force you to do anything, it's not like they can chain you to your desk and make you keep working. Overtime isn't ever compulsory in the sense that "we will make you do this whether you like it or not", but it can be compulsory in the sense that "we will fire you if you don't do this". A company can tell (not ask) you to work overtime and give you the boot if you decline. That of course doesn't happen in all cases of overtime, but I don't see anything that indicates whether overtime is optional or not here. May 1, 2019 at 17:33
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    @NuclearWang: That definitely depends on the location. In the US most employees are "at will" so yes the company can fire you for virtually any reason. In many European countries however it would take gross misconduct to be fired.
    – jesse_b
    May 1, 2019 at 17:39
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    As an employee, I would not play both sides of the coin. The original poster clearly wants overtime; they can not logically want overtime and ask for the company to "motivate them to come back to overtime". This type of behavior would either be spiteful or extortive.
    – Underminer
    May 1, 2019 at 18:23

They can, you may have to find a new task that only you can do. I'm lucky that where I work we have unlimited overtime. The industry as a whole has been short-handed for over 15 years. 65 to 70 plus hours per week. I love it!

  • 1
    I'm not sure this boasting is actually useful to the OP. Jan 26, 2022 at 6:32
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    @GregoryCurrie Agreed it is not helpful at all but it sounds more like thinly veiled sarcasm than boasting.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jan 26, 2022 at 8:16
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    This doesn't address the question.
    – Chenmunka
    Jan 26, 2022 at 10:34
  • @Mari-LouA Apparently not thin enough for me! Jan 26, 2022 at 12:56

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