What is TOIL?

TOIL stands for Time Off In Lieu. It is a type of absence that an employer might offer an employee in exchange for working some pre-arranged over time. Time off in lieu is the most common alternative to paying additional wages for overtime.

How does TOIL work?

Time off in lieu works very simply. For whatever amount of extra overtime you work beyond your regular contract, you can bank it. At a later stage, you can then claim back the time by taking some time off as TOIL. This request would work the same as a regular holiday request, except the allowance would come out of TOIL rather than Holiday.

What are the pros and cons of TOIL?

Most businesses have periods of busy time and quiet time. The main benefit of TOIL is to provide a way to encourage employees to work extra hard during the busy times, and then reward them with more time off during the quiet times.

The amount of extra effort and time you expect from your employees needs to be carefully considered though. The “benefits” of TOIL can easily be abused, resulting in overworked and stressed employees. If your employees become overworked and stressed, their performance will drop.

Another potential downside to TOIL is when an employee builds up a lot of allowance and takes it at a time which will add extra stress on other employees, or the wider business.

To reduce the downsides, it is important to set some ground rules on how and when time off in lieu can be used in your TOIL policy.

Do all employers use it?

Some aspects of time off have strict legal requirements under UK law. However, providing TOIL is not one of them. Each company is different in what they offer, and they may not offer time off in lieu at all.

We recommend that every company has a TOIL policy to make sure that everyone in the company understands if time off in lieu is an option when working overtime, and exactly what the process is.

Even if your company doesn’t offer TOIL, there should be a very simple TOIL policy to say it is not available. You could include it in your regular absence policy too.

What should be in a TOIL Policy?

There are several key things to consider when writing your TOIL policy. Here are the main things we would recommend adding to your Time off in lieu policy:

  • Written Consent: We recommend having a pre-approval process for each time an employee is working overtime, that provides consent that TOIL will be offered in exchange. A blanket policy that time off in lieu is offered in exchange for overtime could encourage employees to work over time just because they need some time off in the future, rather than because they need over time to complete some work.
  • Minimum amount of time off: It is best if a minimum amount of time off in lieu be banked before the time is actually take off. Small and frequent periods of time off are more disruptive than longer periods. Setting a required amount of TOIL to be banked before time off can be taken by your employees makes sure that you minimise the amount of disruption the time off will cause.
  • Minimum amount of notice: Like with all absence requests, you should include in your policy how much notice must be given before an employee can use up some of their TOIL.
  • Expiration on earned time off: You should set a limit on how long earned time off in lieu is available for. For simplicity, we recommend that you use the same expiration as you do with regular holiday allowances, including however you allow unused holiday to rollover to the following year.

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