Q: My employers have announced that they are to withhold the payment of overtime which has already been earned. I was relying on this overtime to pay for some home improvements. We have not had any formal notification, a memo was passed down through our line managers and then verbally disseminated to us. Can I insist that they pay and do I have any legal standing?
A: Some employees, often salaried staff, are expected to work overtime without extra payment. However many workers, especially those who are paid on an hourly basis, will have a right to overtime for any extra hours worked. Normally overtime is paid on a weekly or monthly basis.
As a first step, you should check your contract of employment. If it expressly states that you will be paid for overtime, then you should have a right to be paid.
If your written contract says nothing about overtime, but over a period of time your employer has paid you for any extras hours worked, it is also likely you have a right to be paid.
If you are entitled to overtime, your employer can only refuse to pay you if you have agreed this in writing or if there is a term in your contract giving your employer the right to withhold the money and they have told you in writing that they are not going to pay you on this occasion.
As it appears neither of these apply to you, it is likely you can complain to your employer that they have made an unfair deduction from your wages.
Senior Employment Rights Officer, TUC