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Table Of Contents

Understanding TOIL: A Comprehensive Guide for UK Employers

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Table Of Contents

Time Off In Lieu (TOIL) is an arrangement commonly used in the United Kingdom, allowing employees to take time off work instead of receiving overtime pay. For example, if an employee works two extra hours on a project, they can take two hours off at a later date.

This practice provides flexibility in managing working hours and compensating for overtime, benefiting both employers and employees.

The Benefits of Time Off in Lieu (TOIL)

For Employers 

TOIL offers several advantages for employers: 

  1. Cost Savings: One of the primary benefits of TOIL is cost savings. Instead of paying overtime rates, employers can offer time off, which can be more economical, especially for small businesses with tight budgets. 
  2. Flexibility in Workforce Management: TOIL provides greater flexibility in managing workloads and staffing levels. During peak periods, employees can work extra hours and then take time off during quieter periods, balancing the workload effectively. 
  3. Improved Employee Morale: Offering TOIL can improve employee satisfaction and morale. Employees appreciate having the option to take time off to rest and recharge, which can lead to increased productivity and reduced burnout. 
  4. Retention and Recruitment: A flexible TOIL policy can make an organization more attractive to potential recruits and help retain current employees by offering a desirable work-life balance benefit.

For Employees

  1. Work-Life Balance: TOIL can help employees achieve a better work-life balance. Instead of working extra hours without compensation, employees can take time off to attend to personal matters or simply rest. 
  2. Increased Flexibility: Employees can choose when to take their TOIL, giving them greater control over their schedules and allowing them to plan their time off according to their needs. 
  3. Recognition of Effort: TOIL is a tangible way for employers to recognize and reward employees’ extra efforts. This recognition can boost employee morale and motivation.

UK Employment Law and TOIL

While TOIL is a common practice, it is not explicitly defined in UK employment law. However, it is subject to general employment laws and regulations, including the Working Time Regulations 1998, which govern working hours, rest breaks, and paid annual leave.

Working Time Regulations 1998

Under the Working Time Regulations 1998:

  • Maximum Weekly Working Hours: Employees cannot be required to work more than 48 hours a week on average, unless they have opted out of this limit.

  • Rest Breaks: Employees are entitled to rest breaks if they work more than six hours a day.

  • Daily and Weekly Rest Periods: Employees are entitled to a minimum of 11 consecutive hours of rest in every 24-hour period and at least 24 hours of rest in every seven-day period.

  • Annual Leave: Employees are entitled to a minimum of 5.6 weeks of paid annual leave per year.

Interested in learning more about the UK laws related to leave? Check out our Leave Laws page.

TOIL and Employment Contracts

Employers should clearly outline TOIL arrangements in employment contracts or company policies. This includes specifying how TOIL is accrued, how and when it can be taken, and any limits on the amount of TOIL that can be accumulated.

Health and Safety Considerations

Employers must ensure that TOIL arrangements do not compromise employees’ health and safety. This includes ensuring that employees do not work excessive hours and that they take adequate rest breaks.

Implementing TOIL: Best Practices for Employers

Develop a Clear TOIL Policy

A clear and comprehensive TOIL policy is essential for effective implementation. The policy should include:

  • Eligibility: Specify which employees are eligible for TOIL.

  • Accrual Rate: Define how TOIL is accrued (e.g., one hour of TOIL for every hour of overtime worked).

  • Approval Process: Outline the process for requesting and approving TOIL.

  • Limits and Expiry: Set any limits on the amount of TOIL that can be accumulated and any expiry dates (e.g., TOIL must be used within six months).

  • Recording and Tracking: Detail how TOIL will be recorded and tracked.

Communicate the Policy

Ensure that all employees are aware of the TOIL policy and understand how it works. This can be done through employee handbooks, induction programs, and regular communication from management.

Use a Leave Management System

Automating the tracking of TOIL accruals and usage with a leave management system is essential for modern businesses.


Vacation Tracker automates the complex process of calculating TOIL, ensuring precision and consistency. 

This reduces the risk of human error, which is common with manual calculations. The system can handle various accrual rates and policies, making it adaptable to the specific needs of your organization.

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Implementing a well-structured TOIL policy is crucial for modern businesses seeking to balance operational efficiency with employee satisfaction. 

This comprehensive approach to managing overtime and leave can lead to higher employee satisfaction, reduced turnover, and a more resilient, productive organization.

Aleksandra Cvetkovic
Aleksandra Cvetkovic

Aleksandra has been with the team since day one, bringing her passion for all things marketing.

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