From ArticleWorld

The term overtime refers to working beyond the normal work hours. Normal work hours are established according to legislation, collective agreements, customs or practices associated to a particular trade. Legislation is in place in many countries to protect employees from being forced to work extra hours and to create employment for others. A method of regulation is the requirement of companies to pay higher rates for overtime hours.

U.S. law

Working more than 40 hours in a week legally constitutes payment at time and a half for many employees. The law in the U.S. states that the normal work hours are 40 hours per week and enforces payment at one and a half times the worker's rate of pay for additional time. It exempts administrative, management and professional staff from this requirement. However, all other employees must be paid at this rate for extra work hours. Attempts were made in 2004 to make amendments to the legislation to exempt more employees from being paid overtime, however these changes were not enacted.

Time off in lieu

This term refers to compensatory time that is awarded to the employee for work done outside of the 40-hour workweek. This time off may be granted instead of or in addition to overtime pay. In the U.S.A. it is currently illegal to utilize this type of arrangement in the private sector.

European Community (EC) directives

The EC's new directives aim to ensure that workers cannot be forced to work excessive hours. The following directives are to be adopted by members of the EC. These directives require the maximum workweek to be 48 hours including overtime, minimum rest of 11 consecutive hours per day, breaks when work exceeds 6 hours, 24 hours rest in each work week in addition to the 11 daily hours, minimum of 4 weeks paid leave per year and night work restrictions of 8 hours per shift. These directives will be enforced in both the private and public sectors with only doctors working 58-hour weeks until 2009, at which time they too will also fall into the 48-hour week classification.

Some other exemptions may include managing executives, family workers or other individuals whose work time cannot be measured. Other categories may be exempted if compensatory rest or other protection is provided. The directive also provides for employees who are willing to work beyond the limitation hours, but with certain conditions. These conditions are that the agreement made must be in writing, but not during probation or the signing of employment contracts. Its validity is for one year maximum only and is subject to renewal. No worker can work more than 65 hours weekly and records of hours worked must be kept.