Overtime work is work performed by an employee in excess of the normal hours of work which has been officially requested and approved by management. It is work that is not part of an employee’s regularly scheduled working week and for which an employee may be compensated.

The EU imposes limitations on overtime working in Council Directive 93/104/EC of 23 November 1993 concerning certain aspects of the organisation of working time (嬔as amended by Directive 2000/34 of 22 June 2000. Article 6(2) prescribes that, ‘the average working time for each seven-day period, including overtime, does not exceed 48 hours’.

Council Directive 91/533/EEC of 14 October 1991 imposes an obligation on employers to inform employees of the conditions applicable to the contract or other employment relationship, and specifies in Article 2(2)(i) that information be provided as to the ‘length of the employee’s normal working day or week’. Although this provision does not refer to overtime, the directive provides that all ‘essential aspects’ of terms and conditions of employment must be notified. A decision of the European Court of Justice rejected the argument that the phrase ‘length of the employee’s normal working day or week’ included obligations as to overtime, even when habitually worked. Nonetheless, information regarding overtime obligations was still necessary, according to the Court, since the directive’s section 2(2) is not the exhaustive list of terms and conditions of employment, about which information must be provided, but must include all essential elements, including overtime (Lange v. Georg Schunemann GmbH, Case C-350/99, [2001]).

See also: night work; rest periods; shift work; stress at work; working time.

Please note: the European industrial relations dictionary is updated annually. If errors are brought to our attention, we will try to correct them.
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