Overtime work - characteristics


There are times when it is necessary to work overtime. The employer may ask the employee to stay after hours, e.g. in order to prepare for an important tender or control. However, does the employee have to follow the supervisor's instructions? Will he receive any allowance for these hours? In the article we will answer these questions.

Overtime work

The Labor Code strictly defines what is overtime work. It is "work performed in excess of the working time standards applicable to the employee, as well as work performed in excess of the extended daily working time, resulting from the applicable system and schedule of working hours" (Article 151 § 1 of the Labor Code).

Overtime work is allowed in the following situations:

  • the need to conduct a rescue operation in order to protect human life or health, property or the environment, or remove a failure;

  • special needs of the employer (there must be unforeseeable circumstances).

Example 1.

Ms. Jola is a staff member and works from Monday to Friday from 8:00 to 16:00. On Friday, April 21, 2017, ZUS notified the company where Ms. Jola works about the planned inspection on April 24, 2017. Due to an exceptional circumstance, Mrs. Jola's boss asked her to stay an hour longer in order to prepare the documentation needed for the ZUS inspection. The work between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. was overtime work.


An employee who refuses to work overtime without justification at the request of the supervisor may be punished with an order penalty or the employer may terminate the employment contract with him.

Overtime Limits

The Labor Code specifies the maximum daily and weekly working hours. The daily standard is 8 hours in an average 5-day working week, and the weekly standard is 40 hours in a maximum 12-month settlement period. However, when it comes to weekly working time, including overtime, it cannot exceed 48 hours in the adopted settlement period. In a calendar year, the number of overtime hours worked due to the special needs of the employer may not exceed 150 hours.

It is allowed to set a different annual limit for overtime:

  • in a collective labor agreement;

  • in the work regulations, if the employer is not covered by a collective agreement;

  • in an employment contract, if the employer is not covered by a collective agreement and is not obliged to establish work regulations.

Not everyone can work overtime

Overtime work may not be performed by:

  • juvenile workers;

  • temporary workers;

  • pregnant women;

  • disabled employees - does not apply to disabled employees employed for supervision or if the doctor agrees to overtime;

  • employees working at workplaces where the maximum permissible concentrations or intensities of factors harmful to health are exceeded - in the case of overtime work due to the special needs of the employer;

  • employees caring for a child until the age of four - in the absence of their consent.

Compensation for overtime work

Overtime work may be settled in the form of a cash bonus to the salary or the employee may be granted time off work.

Supplement to the remuneration for overtime

For overtime work, in addition to the normal pay, a supplement is due. It is paid in the following amount:

  • 100% of overtime pay:

    • night time;

    • falling on Sundays and public holidays that are not working days for the employee, in accordance with the working time schedule applicable to him;

    • falling on non-working days granted to the employee in exchange for work on Sunday or on a public holiday, in accordance with the working time schedule applicable to him;

  • 50% of remuneration for overtime hours falling on a day other than the above-mentioned.

The allowance in the amount of 100% of remuneration is also paid for overtime due to exceeding the average weekly standard of working time in the adopted settlement period, unless the excess was caused by work for which the allowance for overtime hours mentioned above as overtime paid 100% is due.

Employees who work permanently outside the workplace may be remunerated on a flat-rate basis for overtime. The amount of the lump sum should correspond to the anticipated amount of overtime work.

Example 2.

Mr. Jerzy was supposed to work from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Monday. At the employer's request, he stayed until midnight. Due to the fact that there are night hours from 22:00 to 24:00, Mr. Jerzy is entitled to an allowance in the amount of 100% of remuneration.

Example 3.

Mr. Grzegorz worked on Wednesday from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. Before finishing work, my colleague had a heart attack. To help his colleague, Mr. Grzegorz stayed an hour longer at work. For this hour, he will receive a 50% wage supplement.

To calculate the allowance for overtime due to exceeding the average weekly working time, you should:

  • calculate the hours to be worked in a given settlement period,

  • subtract the working hours from the number of hours actually worked - the result will be the number of overtime hours,

  • subtract from this number the hours for which the employee is entitled to the allowance for exceeding the daily norm; the remaining number of hours are the hours resulting from exceeding the weekly norm.

Example 4.

Ms. Monika works from Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The billing period in her company is one month. In April 2017, there were 152 hours to be worked. Ms Monika worked overtime and worked 180 hours in total in April. There were 28 overtime hours (180 h - 152 h). For 20 of these hours, Ms. Monika is entitled to an allowance resulting from exceeding the daily norm. The remaining 8 hours are overtime resulting from exceeding the weekly standard, payable 100%.

The remuneration constituting the basis for calculating the allowance for overtime work is 60% of the remuneration, unless the employee has been given an hourly or monthly wage component.


Employees working after hours without the consent of the employer are not entitled to bonuses for overtime work. Managers will also not receive overtime bonus unless overtime is done on a Sunday or public holiday.

Free time for overtime work

Overtime work can be collected by employees in the form of free time in the same amount. The employee may submit an application to the supervisor for free time. The employer may also grant the employee time off from work without the employee's request, but then in the amount of half the amount of overtime. Time off for overtime is due until the end of the settlement period and does not reduce the salary due to the employee for the full monthly working time.