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How to Prepare to Work Overtime

Updated on May 17, 2020
davidlivermore profile image

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

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. | Source

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.

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?

Have you ever worked at a job that required overtime?

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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 at 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.

Medical Issues Due to Overtime

Medical Issues
Heart Problems
Eye Sight Issues
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Loss of Sleep
Change in Personality
These are just some of the possible medical issues that could arise if you end up working too much overtime.

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. 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.

How Much Overtime Have You Worked?

What is the most amount of overtime hours you have worked in a week?

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

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.

So how would you prepare for a job that requires overtime? Leave a comment below to share with others.

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


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    • Lucia Vazquez profile image

      Lucia Vazquez 

      4 years ago from Valencia

      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.

    • LouCannon profile image

      Amanda Louise Cannon 

      5 years ago from Wynndel BC Canada

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

    • tlcs profile image

      Trudy Cooper 

      5 years ago from Hampshire, UK

      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!

    • guyjackson profile image

      Guyene Jackson 

      6 years ago from USA

      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 profile image

      Jatinder Joshi 

      6 years ago from Whitby, Ontario, Canada

      Congratulations on being nominated HOTD.

      Very informative. Thank you for sharing.

    • Janner53 profile image


      6 years ago from Devon, UK

      Congrats on the HOTD.

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

    • emilynemchick profile image

      Emily Nemchick 

      6 years ago from Phoenix, AZ

      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.

    • Johnnejin profile image

      Johnne Jinn 

      6 years ago from Philippines

      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.

    • thumbi7 profile image

      JR Krishna 

      6 years ago from India

      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.

    • moronkee profile image

      Moronke Oluwatoyin 

      6 years ago

      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.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      6 years ago from North Central Florida

      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 profile image


      6 years ago from London

      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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