I have a really hard-working employee who frequently does lots of overtime – they often go over and above what’s required of them in their job. My clients love them, is it ok for me to let this situation continue?

It’s great that your employee is so keen to do this extra work for you, and that it goes down so well with your clients. We would however recommend caution in allowing this to go on unchecked.

Whether this is planned overtime, or you only found out about it after it happened, there are a few things you will need to find out.

Firstly, why are they doing this? It could be because otherwise the work wouldn’t be done, due to low staffing levels, or that there are misconduct or performance issues, either on their own part or their colleagues. If this is the case, you will need to take action to resolve these issues as soon as possible as it could be having, or has the potential to have, a serious impact on the business.

You should also bear in mind that if the employee is paid national minimum or living wage, or close to it, these additional hours might cause their pay to fall below the statutory minimum. This could lead to HMRC taking action against you for failing to pay minimum wage, a fine, and the organisations inclusion on the governments ‘naming and shaming’ list, which is published on gov.uk and includes the names, regions and sectors of employers found to have underpaid minimum wage by more than £500 across their employees.

If this is planned and paid overtime, they could be doing this due to their personal financial concerns. Perhaps they are struggling to pay their bills or are in debt. If this is the case, they might benefit from some additional support, such as an emergency hardship loan, or guidance in managing their finances that could be provided internally (with existing expertise or arranging for someone to come in to speak on this in the workplace) or by signposting them to external charities and organisations that can assist with these matters.

Whilst your employee is willing and able to do this overtime now, there is a risk that with all this extra work, and regularly going above and beyond, could lead to this employee becoming ‘burnt out’. If this happens, it can lead to your employee’s wellbeing diminishing, as well as potentially their mental and physical health. Eventually, this could cause them to being absent, creating problems for you as you try and cover their work. As such, it’s a good idea to check in with your employee about this. Whilst you don’t necessarily need to ask the employee to reduce what they’re doing, unless it is causing them harm or causing their pay to fall below statutory requirements, speaking to them about why they are doing this will give you some important insights into what’s happening with them, and perhaps in your business too. 

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