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TOIL vs. Overtime Pay: What’s Best for Your Business?

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Table Of Contents

Managing employee work hours is a critical aspect of running a successful business. 

One of the key decisions employers face is whether to offer Time Off In Lieu (TOIL) or overtime pay as compensation for extra hours worked by employees. 

Both options have their advantages and disadvantages, and the best choice depends on various factors, including company size, industry, financial resources, and employee preferences. 

What is TOIL?

Time Off In Lieu (TOIL) is a system where employees who work extra hours beyond their contracted working hours can take equivalent time off 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. 

TOIL provides flexibility in managing working hours and can be particularly beneficial for businesses with fluctuating workloads.

What is Overtime Pay?

Overtime pay is the additional compensation provided to employees for working beyond their regular working hours. 

In many countries, including the UK, overtime pay is typically calculated at a higher rate than regular pay, often one and a half times (time-and-a-half) or double (double-time) the regular hourly wage. 

Overtime pay is a straightforward way to compensate employees for their extra effort and time.

Benefits of TOIL

Cost Savings

One of the primary advantages of TOIL for employers 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. 

This can help manage financial liabilities and ensure that payroll costs remain predictable and manageable.

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. 

This flexibility can help prevent burnout and maintain a healthy work-life balance for employees.

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. 

TOIL can also foster a sense of appreciation and recognition for employees’ extra efforts.

Retention and Recruitment

A flexible TOIL policy can make an organization more attractive to potential recruits and help retain current employees

Administrative Simplicity

Managing TOIL can often be administratively simpler than calculating and processing overtime pay, especially in smaller organizations. Employees and managers can track hours worked and TOIL taken without the need for complex payroll adjustments. 

Many leave management systems, such as Vacation Tracker, can automate this process, ensuring accuracy and ease of use.

Drawbacks of TOIL

Potential for Accrual Issues

One of the challenges with TOIL is the potential for employees to accrue large amounts of time off, which can become difficult to manage. If many employees decide to take their TOIL simultaneously, it could lead to understaffing and disrupt business operations. 

Employers need to set clear policies on how much TOIL can be accrued and by when it must be used.

Requires Careful Monitoring

Employers need to carefully monitor the accrual and use of TOIL to prevent abuse and ensure that it aligns with the company’s operational needs. 

This requires diligent record-keeping and communication with employees to ensure that TOIL is being used appropriately and fairly.

May Not Be Suitable for All Industries

TOIL may not be suitable for all industries, particularly those with consistent high workloads or where continuous staffing is essential, such as in healthcare or emergency services. 

In these cases, offering time off in lieu of pay might not be practical or could negatively impact service delivery.

Benefits of Overtime Pay

Immediate Compensation

Overtime pay provides immediate financial compensation to employees for the extra hours they work. 

This can be a strong motivator for employees to work additional hours, especially when they need the extra income. It can also be simpler for employees to understand and appreciate compared to TOIL.

Easy to Implement

Overtime pay is straightforward to implement and understand. It doesn’t require the same level of tracking and record-keeping as TOIL, making it easier for both employers and employees to manage. 

The rules and rates for overtime pay are typically well-defined by labor laws, reducing ambiguity.

In many jurisdictions, providing overtime pay is a legal requirement for non-exempt employees. Ensuring compliance with labor laws by paying overtime can help employers avoid legal issues and potential penalties. It also demonstrates a commitment to fair labor practices.

Attracts Willing Workers

Offering overtime pay can attract employees who are willing to work extra hours for additional pay. 

This can be particularly useful during peak business periods when additional labor is needed but hiring temporary staff is not feasible.

Drawbacks of Overtime Pay

Increased Labor Costs

The most significant drawback of overtime pay is the increased labor cost. Overtime is often paid at a higher rate than regular hours, which can significantly increase payroll expenses. 

For businesses operating on tight margins, this can be a considerable financial burden.

Potential for Burnout

While employees might appreciate the extra pay, consistently working long hours can lead to burnout. This can reduce productivity, increase absenteeism, and lead to higher turnover rates. 

Employers need to balance the need for additional labor with the well-being of their employees.

Complicated Payroll Management

Calculating and processing overtime pay can complicate payroll management, especially if there are varying rates of overtime and different rules for different categories of employees. 

This requires accurate time tracking and meticulous payroll processes to ensure compliance and avoid errors.

Deciding Between TOIL and Overtime Pay

1. Assess Your Business Needs

The decision between TOIL and overtime pay should begin with an assessment of your business needs. 

Consider factors such as the nature of your industry, the predictability of your workload, and your financial resources. 

Businesses with seasonal or fluctuating demands might benefit more from the flexibility of TOIL, while those with consistent high workloads might find overtime pay more straightforward to manage.

2. Consider Employee Preferences

Understanding your employees’ preferences is also crucial. Some employees might prefer the financial benefit of overtime pay, while others might value the additional time off provided by TOIL. 

Conducting surveys or discussions with employees can provide insights into their preferences and help tailor your approach to meet their needs.

Ensure that your choice complies with local labor laws. In many jurisdictions, overtime pay is mandatory for non-exempt employees, and failure to comply can result in legal penalties.

Review the legal requirements in your area and consult with legal counsel if necessary to ensure that your policy meets all legal obligations.

Best Practices for Implementing TOIL

Develop a Comprehensive TOIL Policy

A comprehensive TOIL policy is essential for effective implementation. The policy should specify eligibility, how TOIL is accrued, the approval process, limits on accrual, and how TOIL should be recorded and tracked. 

Communicate Clearly

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

Use a Leave Management System

Automating the tracking of TOIL accruals and usage with a leave management system like Vacation Tracker ensures accurate calculation and efficient management. 

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Such systems provide real-time visibility into leave balances, helping both employees and managers manage TOIL effectively. 

Automation reduces the administrative burden and minimizes the risk of errors.

Best Practices for Implementing Overtime Pay

Develop a Clear Overtime Policy

A clear overtime policy is essential to ensure compliance and fairness. The policy should outline how overtime is calculated, the rates of pay, and the approval process for overtime work. 

Ensure that the policy complies with local labor laws and is communicated clearly to all employees.

Need help creating a leave policy? Use our FREE leave policy generator! 

Accurate Time Tracking

Accurate time tracking is crucial for calculating overtime pay correctly. Implement reliable time-tracking systems that capture all hours worked, including any overtime. 

Provide Financial Planning Resources

Offering resources for financial planning can help employees make the most of their overtime pay. 

Workshops or materials on budgeting and saving can empower employees to use their additional earnings wisely, enhancing their overall financial well-being.

Regularly Review Payroll Processes

Regularly review payroll processes to ensure that overtime pay is calculated and processed accurately. This includes auditing payroll records, checking for compliance with legal requirements, and addressing any discrepancies promptly. 

What to choose?

Choosing between TOIL and overtime pay depends on the unique needs and circumstances of your business. 

By carefully assessing your business needs, understanding legal requirements, and implementing clear policies, you can develop a compensation strategy that supports both your operational goals and the well-being of your employees. 

Whether you choose TOIL, overtime pay, or a combination of both, prioritizing transparency, fairness, and employee engagement will help create a positive and productive workplace.

Aleksandra Cvetkovic
Aleksandra Cvetkovic

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

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