As an hourly contractor how does overtime typically work? I have been keeping under the 8hrs/day, but due to university commitments will be shifting a significant portion of my hours onto the weekends and intend to charge those hours into overtime on Monday. There is an entry on my timesheet for overtime, but I've never touched this before; I'm intending to work a 9 hour day in the near future just to see if the payroll people bring it up.

I realize this is quite ambiguous; ultimately I'm completely clueless on overtime procedures and reading company policy wasn't much help. I'd like to see what I could garner online before bringing it up with my employer. Thanks in advance.

  • 1
    Are you W-2 or 1099? If you're 1099 then you have no legal right to overtime pay and as such, there's no such thing as overtime. As a 1099 contractor I always stipulate what my hourly rates are for business hours work and for after hours work. I bill at a higher hourly rate for work that falls outside of 8-5/M-F.
    – joeqwerty
    Aug 12 '20 at 3:23
  • What does your contract say? Aug 12 '20 at 8:06
  • 3
    But also realize it is not your (i.e. the OP) decision. If I run a business and a contractor decides to work outside business hours because "due to university commitments" - it is not MY job to pay him more. Your hourly rate at a higher rate may simply not be competitive. Overtime is meant for scenarios YOU work more than full time, not for scenarios you decide to work in the night due to over commitments.
    – TomTom
    Aug 12 '20 at 9:25
  • @TomTom makes a good point. If I work after hours because I choose to or because I've taken on too much work then I bill my clients at my regular hourly rate. If I work after hours because the client requested it, scheduled it, or they've called me for something after hours then I bill them at my after hours hourly rate.
    – joeqwerty
    Aug 12 '20 at 12:37
  • 1
    Just saying: If it is your decision to work on Saturday instead of Monday, and nobody asked you to do it, then it's not overtime.
    – gnasher729
    Aug 13 '20 at 7:55

It will depend on your jurisdiction, and your contract. Check local labour laws for how you're classified, and check your contract for overtime specifications. In most true "contractor" contracts, overtime is called out specifically, must be authorized by the contracting company, and tracked separately.

  • 4
    The part about being authorised is important. I would advise against putting down extra hours without asking whoever signs off on your time. Often they have a specific budget for your time and can't exceed it without being able to justify it or get authorisation from their own boss. It is a regular occurrence in my experience that salary employees (who don't get paid for it) are asked to work the weekend when I (who would have to get paid) get told I can stay home.
    – Eric Nolan
    Aug 12 '20 at 8:55

When people say they are a contractor they mean one of two things:

  • They are an employee of company A but support a contract their employer has with company B or government agency C.

  • They are not an employee of a company or they are their own company.

In the first case what your employer can charge for your hours depends on the contract terms they negotiated. What your company pays you for overtime, weekend work, or night shift depends on the national and local labor laws. It is possible that your company may give you a shift differential even though they can't charge the contract a higher rate for those non-standard hours. In those cases expect company management to want to approve non-standard hours. Even in the case where they can charge for weekend work, sometimes the client wants to approve it in advance. Your company manager should know the rules.

In the situation described in the second case you generally aren't covered by labor laws related to shift differentials and overtime. You are the company so your decision to put in extra hours is your choice alone. What you can charge is dictated by the terms of the contract. This could include shift-premium, rush jobs, overtime, on-call...


When I was a contractor (in the UK and Germany), I was expected to work x hours per week (35 or 37 or whatever, I don't remember). Anything above this had be authorised in advance by my supervisor, and was paid at the same rate as normal hours unless a higher rate was specifically authorised for that particular instance.

Unpaid overtime was definitely not expected from me.

Details may vary from place to place; the important thing is to have them in writing.

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