Time Off In Lieu Policy UK – Everything you need to know

Time Off In Lieu (TOIL) is a valuable benefit for employees, allowing them to take time off work to compensate for additional hours worked beyond their contracted hours. Implementing a well-structured Time Off In Lieu Policy ensures fair and consistent management of this benefit, aligns with legal requirements, and enhances employee satisfaction. This article will guide you through what to include in a comprehensive Time Off In Lieu policy for your organisation.

Purpose of a Time Off In Lieu Policy

The primary purpose of a Time Off In Lieu policy is to provide a clear framework for the management of time off in lieu within the organisation. This policy aims to ensure that employees are compensated fairly for the additional hours they work beyond their contracted hours. It is an essential part of promoting a healthy work-life balance, which can lead to increased job satisfaction and productivity.

A Time Off In Lieu policy also serves to standardise the process across the organisation, ensuring consistency and fairness. By having a well-defined policy, the organisation can avoid potential disputes and misunderstandings about how extra hours are compensated. This consistency helps in building trust between employees and management, as it demonstrates a commitment to fair treatment.

In addition to promoting fairness and consistency, a Time Off In Lieu policy is critical for legal compliance. Employment laws and regulations, such as the Working Time Regulations in the UK, have specific requirements regarding working hours and compensation for overtime. A robust TOIL policy helps the organisation comply with these legal requirements, reducing the risk of legal disputes and penalties.

Moreover, the policy clarifies the organisation’s expectations and procedures regarding the accrual, request, and usage of TOIL. It provides employees with clear guidelines on how they can earn and utilise TOIL, ensuring they understand their entitlements and responsibilities. This clarity helps in preventing confusion and ensures that both employees and managers are on the same page.

Another key purpose of the Time Off In Lieu policy is to support the organisation’s operational needs. By outlining when and how TOIL can be taken, the policy helps in managing workforce availability and planning. This ensures that while employees are compensated for their extra hours, the organisation can still maintain its productivity and meet its operational requirements.

Lastly, a Time Off In Lieu policy can contribute to employee well-being. By recognising and compensating extra work, the organisation shows that it values its employees’ efforts. This recognition can boost morale, enhance employee engagement, and reduce turnover rates. When employees feel that their hard work is acknowledged and rewarded, they are more likely to be motivated and committed to the organisation.

Eligibility Criteria

Determining who is eligible for TOIL within your organisation is a crucial aspect of the Time Off In Lieu policy. Clear eligibility criteria ensure that all employees understand who can benefit from TOIL and under what conditions, thus promoting fairness and transparency.

Firstly, outline the types of employment statuses that qualify for TOIL. Typically, full-time employees are eligible, but it’s also important to consider part-time and temporary employees. For part-time employees, it might be necessary to specify how their TOIL accrual works relative to their part-time hours. Temporary or contract employees might also be eligible for TOIL, but with specific conditions or limitations tailored to their employment terms.

Next, consider whether certain roles or departments are subject to different TOIL eligibility criteria. For example, employees in managerial or senior positions might have different TOIL entitlements compared to entry-level staff due to the nature of their roles and responsibilities. Similarly, employees in operational departments that require continuous staffing might have specific guidelines for TOIL accrual and usage to ensure operational continuity.

Eligibility criteria should also address any probationary periods. Some organisations may choose to limit TOIL eligibility until an employee has successfully completed a probationary period. This approach ensures that new hires are fully integrated into the organisation before they begin to accrue TOIL.

Furthermore, the policy should clarify the circumstances under which TOIL can be accrued. This includes defining what constitutes “additional hours worked.” For example, TOIL might only be accrued for hours worked beyond the regular schedule with prior approval from a manager, ensuring that employees do not unilaterally decide to work extra hours expecting TOIL.

In addition, the policy should specify any exclusions or restrictions related to TOIL eligibility. This might include certain projects or periods where TOIL accrual is not permitted due to operational demands or peak business times. Clearly outlining these restrictions helps manage expectations and ensures that employees understand when TOIL cannot be accrued.

The policy should also address any collective agreements or union considerations that might affect TOIL eligibility. If there are existing agreements with trade unions, the Time Off In Lieu policy should align with these agreements to ensure compliance and maintain good labour relations.

Finally, it is essential to communicate the eligibility criteria effectively to all employees. This can be achieved through employee handbooks, onboarding sessions, and regular training updates. Clear communication helps ensure that everyone is aware of their rights and responsibilities regarding TOIL, thereby promoting a culture of transparency and fairness.

Accrual of TOIL

The accrual of TOIL is a key component of the Time Off In Lieu policy, as it outlines how employees can earn time off for the extra hours they work. Clear and precise guidelines on TOIL accrual help ensure fairness and consistency across the organisation.

Method of Accrual

Start by specifying the method of accrual. Typically, TOIL is accrued on an hour-for-hour basis, meaning that for every additional hour worked, employees earn an equivalent amount of time off. However, some organisations may choose to offer enhanced accrual rates for overtime, such as time-and-a-half or double time, particularly for work done on weekends, public holidays, or during unsociable hours. Clarifying this upfront helps manage employee expectations and ensures transparency.

Calculation Examples

To aid understanding, provide concrete examples of how TOIL is calculated. For instance, if an employee works two hours beyond their regular shift on a weekday, they would accrue two hours of TOIL. If the same hours were worked on a bank holiday, and the policy stipulates time-and-a-half accrual, the employee would earn three hours of TOIL (two hours worked x 1.5). Including such examples makes the policy more accessible and easy to understand.

Maximum Limits

Establish maximum limits on TOIL accrual to prevent excessive accumulation, which can pose challenges for both employees and the organisation. Specify the maximum number of TOIL hours that can be accrued within a given period, such as a month or a year. Additionally, outline any cap on the total TOIL balance an employee can hold at any time. These limits help ensure that employees take their accrued TOIL within a reasonable timeframe, promoting a healthy work-life balance.

Approval for Accrual

Include a requirement for prior approval for accruing TOIL. This means employees must seek and obtain permission from their manager before working extra hours with the expectation of earning TOIL. This process helps manage workloads, prevents unauthorised overtime, and ensures that the additional hours worked are necessary and beneficial to the organisation.

Accrual During Specific Periods

Address any specific periods or situations where TOIL accrual may be limited or restricted. For instance, during peak business times or critical project phases, the organisation may need to restrict TOIL accrual to ensure adequate staffing levels. Clearly state these exceptions to manage expectations and operational needs.

Documentation and Record-Keeping

Outline the documentation and record-keeping requirements for TOIL accrual. Employees should document their additional hours worked, including dates, times, and reasons for the extra work. This documentation should be submitted to and approved by their manager. The organisation may use time-tracking or HR software or manual timesheets to keep accurate records of accrued TOIL. Accurate record-keeping ensures transparency and provides an audit trail in case of disputes.

Regular Review and Monitoring

Implement regular review and monitoring of TOIL accrual to ensure compliance with the policy and identify any potential issues early. Managers should review accrued TOIL balances regularly, discuss them with employees, and encourage the timely use of TOIL. Regular monitoring helps maintain a balance between accrued TOIL and operational needs, ensuring that employees take their earned time off and the organisation remains productive.

Accrual Limits Reset

Clarify how and when accrual limits reset. For example, specify whether the maximum accrual limit resets at the end of the financial year, calendar year, or another designated period. Clearly outlining this reset mechanism ensures that employees understand the timeline for using their accrued TOIL and prevents misunderstandings.

Requesting TOIL

The process for requesting TOIL is essential for maintaining clarity and order within an organisation. A well-defined procedure helps ensure that requests are handled consistently and fairly, benefiting both employees and managers. Here are the key elements to include in the requesting TOIL section of your policy:

Notice Period Requirements

Clearly outline the notice period employees must adhere to when requesting TOIL. Typically, employees should provide a reasonable amount of notice to allow for proper planning and to ensure that their absence does not negatively impact the team’s operations. For instance, a common requirement might be to submit TOIL requests at least one week in advance. However, the notice period could vary depending on the nature of the work and the urgency of the request.

Request Documentation

Specify the documentation required for requesting TOIL. This could include a standard TOIL request form that employees need to complete. The form should capture essential details such as the employee’s name, department, dates and times of the extra hours worked, the total TOIL accrued, and the preferred dates for taking the TOIL. Providing a template form can streamline the process and ensure all necessary information is captured.

Submission Process

Describe the process for submitting TOIL requests. This should include whom the request should be submitted to, usually the employee’s immediate manager or supervisor. If your organisation uses digital tools or absence management software for time tracking and leave management, include instructions on how to submit TOIL requests through these systems. Clear submission guidelines help ensure that requests are directed to the appropriate person and processed efficiently.

Approval Process

Outline the approval process for TOIL requests. Managers should review each request to ensure it complies with the Time Off In Lieu policy and does not interfere with operational requirements. The approval process should consider factors such as the current workload, upcoming projects, and overall team capacity. Managers should communicate their decision promptly, ideally within a specified timeframe, such as three working days. Including a step-by-step description of the approval process ensures transparency and fairness.

Manager Responsibilities

Detail the responsibilities of managers in the TOIL request process. Managers should ensure that TOIL requests are reviewed and approved based on the policy criteria. They should also consider the impact of the employee’s absence on the team’s productivity and make arrangements to cover their duties if necessary. Additionally, managers should keep accurate records of approved TOIL and monitor the usage to ensure employees take their TOIL within the appropriate timeframe.

Employee Responsibilities

Clarify the responsibilities of employees when requesting TOIL. Employees should plan their TOIL requests in advance, adhere to the notice period, and ensure they have accrued enough TOIL for the requested time off. They should also communicate their intentions clearly to their manager and provide any necessary documentation promptly. By fulfilling these responsibilities, employees help maintain an orderly and efficient TOIL request process.

Handling Urgent Requests

Include provisions for handling urgent or last-minute TOIL requests. While it is ideal for employees to plan ahead, there may be instances where urgent personal matters require immediate time off. Outline a procedure for these situations, such as whom to contact and how the request will be evaluated. Ensure that urgent requests are handled with sensitivity and flexibility, balancing the needs of the employee and the organisation.

Communicating Decisions

Ensure the policy includes guidelines on how managers should communicate their decisions regarding TOIL requests. Managers should provide a written response, whether approving or declining the request, and include reasons for their decision. Clear communication helps prevent misunderstandings and ensures employees are aware of the outcome and any next steps.

Appeal Process

Provide an appeal process for employees who wish to contest a denied TOIL request. This process should be clearly defined, allowing employees to escalate their concerns to a higher authority, such as a senior manager or HR representative. Including an appeal process demonstrates the organisation’s commitment to fairness and transparency.

Recording and Monitoring TOIL

Accurate recording and effective monitoring of TOIL are critical components of a well-functioning Time Off In Lieu policy. They ensure transparency, compliance, and fair treatment of employees while allowing the organisation to maintain operational efficiency. Here are the key elements to include in the recording and monitoring TOIL section of your policy:

Record-Keeping Requirements

Establish clear record-keeping requirements to ensure that all TOIL accrued and taken is accurately documented. This can include using digital time-tracking software, spreadsheets, or paper records. Specify that records should include details such as the date and duration of extra hours worked, the reason for the additional hours, the date the TOIL was requested, the approval status, and the dates the TOIL was taken. Accurate and comprehensive records are essential for maintaining transparency and accountability.

Time-Tracking Systems

Recommend or mandate the use of specific time-tracking systems or software to record TOIL. Digital solutions can streamline the process, reduce errors, and provide real-time visibility into TOIL balances for both employees and managers. Ensure that all employees are trained on how to use the chosen system effectively. A centralised system also facilitates easier auditing and reporting.

Responsibilities of Employees

Clarify the responsibilities of employees in recording their TOIL. Employees should be required to log their extra hours promptly and accurately, using the prescribed method. They should also regularly review their TOIL records to ensure that all accrued and taken TOIL is correctly documented. Employees should report any discrepancies to their manager immediately to ensure timely resolution.

Responsibilities of Managers

Outline the responsibilities of managers in monitoring TOIL. Managers should regularly review the TOIL records of their team members to ensure accuracy and compliance with the policy. They should approve TOIL requests promptly and update the records accordingly. Managers are also responsible for ensuring that employees take their accrued TOIL within the specified time limits and do not exceed the maximum accrual limits. Regular oversight helps prevent issues such as TOIL accumulation or disputes over time off.

Regular Reviews and Audits

Implement a schedule for regular reviews and audits of TOIL records. These can be conducted quarterly or biannually by the HR department or a designated team. The reviews should check for accuracy, compliance with the policy, and any potential issues, such as excessive accruals or discrepancies in the records. Audits provide an additional layer of accountability and help identify any areas for improvement in the TOIL recording and monitoring process.

Reporting TOIL Balances

Ensure that employees and managers have access to regular reports on TOIL balances. These reports can be generated by the time-tracking system and should include details of TOIL accrued, taken, and remaining balances. Regular reporting helps employees plan their time off and assists managers in workforce planning and ensuring that employees take their entitled TOIL.

Handling Discrepancies

Establish a clear process for handling discrepancies in TOIL records. Employees should be encouraged to report any discrepancies they notice in their TOIL balances to their manager or HR representative. Managers should investigate these reports promptly and correct any errors in the records. Providing a transparent process for addressing discrepancies helps build trust and ensures the accuracy of TOIL records.

Ensuring Compliance

Detail how the organisation will ensure compliance with the Time Off In Lieu policy. This can include regular training sessions for employees and managers, updating the policy as needed to reflect any changes in employment law, and maintaining open communication channels for employees to ask questions or seek clarification. Ensuring compliance with the policy helps prevent legal issues and promotes a fair and consistent approach to managing TOIL.

Employee Access to Records

Allow employees access to their TOIL records. This transparency ensures that employees can verify their accrued and taken TOIL and raises any concerns promptly. Employees should be able to view their TOIL balances through the time-tracking system or by requesting a summary from their manager or HR.

Documentation of Policy Updates

Keep detailed records of any updates or changes to the Time Off In Lieu policy. Documenting policy revisions ensures that there is a clear history of changes and that all stakeholders are aware of the current procedures and requirements. Communicate any updates to employees and managers promptly and provide training if necessary to ensure everyone understands the new procedures.

Payment for Unused TOIL

The policy on payment for unused TOIL addresses situations where employees have accrued TOIL but are unable to take the time off. Clear guidelines in this section help ensure fairness and compliance with legal requirements, while also managing organisational costs and employee expectations.

Circumstances for Payment

Specify the circumstances under which payment for unused TOIL will be made. Typically, payment is considered in cases such as termination of employment, whether due to resignation, retirement, redundancy, or dismissal. Additionally, payment may be made if the employee has accrued TOIL but has not been able to take the time off due to operational needs or other constraints imposed by the employer.

Calculation of Payment

Detail the method for calculating the payment for unused TOIL. This should be based on the employee’s regular rate of pay at the time of payment. For instance, if an employee has 10 hours of unused TOIL and their hourly rate is £15, they should receive £150 for the unused TOIL. If the policy includes enhanced accrual rates, clarify how these rates apply to the payment calculation. Providing clear examples can help illustrate the calculation method.

Legal Considerations

Ensure the policy complies with relevant employment laws and regulations. In the UK, employment law requires that employees are compensated fairly for any owed time or wages. It’s important to consider any statutory requirements or guidelines that may impact the payment for unused TOIL, such as ensuring that payment is included in the final salary payment or providing a separate payout.

Approval and Documentation

Outline the approval process for payment of unused TOIL. Typically, this involves verification of the accrued TOIL balance by the employee’s manager or HR department. Ensure that proper documentation is maintained, including records of the accrued TOIL, the reasons for not taking the TOIL, and the payment calculation. This documentation is essential for transparency and for resolving any potential disputes.

Frequency of Payments

Specify the frequency with which payments for unused TOIL will be processed. For instance, payments might be made as part of the final salary payment upon termination of employment or at regular intervals (e.g., quarterly or annually) for current employees who are unable to take their TOIL. Clear timelines for payments help manage employee expectations and streamline payroll processes.

Impact on Payroll and Benefits

Clarify how the payment for unused TOIL will be reflected in payroll and its impact on other benefits. For example, outline whether the payment will be subject to standard payroll deductions such as tax and National Insurance contributions. Additionally, explain how this payment might affect pension contributions or other benefits tied to earnings.

Employee Notification

Detail how employees will be notified about the payment for unused TOIL. This should include information on the amount to be paid, the calculation method, and the timing of the payment. Providing a written statement or including this information in the employee’s final payslip can help ensure clear communication and prevent misunderstandings.

Policy on Carrying Over TOIL

Address the policy on carrying over TOIL to the next period or year. If the organisation allows TOIL to be carried over, specify any limits on the amount that can be carried over and the timeframe within which the TOIL must be used. If unused TOIL cannot be carried over and must be paid out, clearly state this to manage expectations.

Dispute Resolution

Include a process for resolving disputes related to payment for unused TOIL. Employees should have a clear avenue to raise concerns if they believe their TOIL payment has not been calculated or processed correctly. This could involve escalating the issue to HR or a designated grievance officer. Providing a structured dispute resolution process helps maintain trust and transparency.

Review and Updates

Ensure that the policy on payment for unused TOIL is regularly reviewed and updated as necessary. Changes in employment law, organisational needs, or feedback from employees may necessitate updates to the policy. Communicate any changes to employees promptly to ensure they are aware of their rights and the procedures for payment of unused TOIL.

Policy Review and Updates

Regular review and updating of the Time Off In Lieu policy are essential to ensure its continued relevance, effectiveness, and compliance with current laws and best practices. A clear process for reviewing and updating the policy helps maintain transparency and fairness while adapting to changes in the workplace environment. Here are the key elements to include in the policy review and updates section:

Frequency of Review

Specify how often the Time Off In Lieu policy will be reviewed. A common practice is to conduct an annual review, but depending on the size and nature of the organisation, a biannual or quarterly review might be appropriate. Regular reviews help ensure the policy remains aligned with organisational needs and legislative changes.

Responsibility for Review

Identify who is responsible for reviewing the Time Off In Lieu policy. This is typically the HR department, but it might also involve senior management or a dedicated policy review committee. The responsible party should have a thorough understanding of employment law, organisational goals, and employee feedback to effectively evaluate the policy.

Review Process

Outline the process for reviewing the policy. This should include gathering data on the policy’s implementation, such as TOIL accrual and usage patterns, feedback from employees and managers, and any issues or disputes that have arisen. The review process should also involve benchmarking against industry standards and best practices to ensure the policy remains competitive and effective.

Stakeholder Involvement

Ensure that key stakeholders are involved in the review process. This includes consulting with employees, managers, and possibly trade unions or employee representatives. Engaging stakeholders helps gather diverse perspectives and ensures that the policy addresses the needs and concerns of all parties involved.

Criteria for Updates

Define the criteria that will trigger updates to the policy. This can include changes in employment law, significant organisational changes (such as restructuring or expansion), feedback indicating issues with the current policy, or emerging best practices in the industry. Having clear criteria helps ensure that updates are made for valid and relevant reasons.

Approval of Changes

Describe the approval process for policy updates. Once proposed changes are drafted, they typically need to be reviewed and approved by senior management or an executive committee. This step ensures that any updates align with the organisation’s strategic goals and receive the necessary oversight.

Communication of Updates

Detail how updates to the Time Off In Lieu policy will be communicated to employees. Effective communication is crucial for ensuring that all employees are aware of the changes and understand how they will be affected. This can be achieved through various channels, such as email announcements, staff meetings, updates to the employee handbook, and training sessions. Providing clear and timely communication helps prevent confusion and ensures smooth implementation of the updated policy.

Training on Updated Policy

Include a plan for training employees and managers on the updated policy. Training sessions should cover the key changes, the reasons behind them, and how they will be implemented. This ensures that everyone understands the new procedures and their roles in adhering to the updated policy. Ongoing training can also be provided as part of the organisation’s regular training programme to reinforce understanding and compliance.

Documentation of Changes

Ensure that all changes to the Time Off In Lieu policy are well-documented. This includes maintaining a record of the review process, stakeholder consultations, approved changes, and communication efforts. Documentation provides a clear history of the policy’s evolution and serves as a reference for future reviews and audits.

Monitoring and Evaluation

Implement a system for monitoring and evaluating the impact of policy updates. This can include tracking key metrics such as TOIL accrual and usage rates, employee satisfaction, and any issues or disputes related to TOIL. Regular evaluation helps assess whether the updated policy is meeting its objectives and provides data for future reviews.

Continuous Improvement

Emphasise the organisation’s commitment to continuous improvement. The Time Off In Lieu policy should be seen as a dynamic document that evolves in response to changing needs and conditions. Encouraging ongoing feedback from employees and managers helps identify areas for further enhancement and ensures that the policy remains effective and relevant.


A well-crafted Time Off In Lieu policy is essential for fostering a positive work environment and ensuring fair and consistent treatment of employees. By clearly outlining the purpose, eligibility criteria, accrual, requesting process, recording and monitoring, payment for unused TOIL, and procedures for policy review and updates, organisations can effectively manage time off in lieu. This not only supports employee wellbeing but also enhances operational efficiency and compliance with employment laws.

Implementing a comprehensive Time Off In Lieu policy demonstrates an organisation’s commitment to valuing its employees’ time and efforts, providing flexibility, and maintaining fairness. It ensures that employees are appropriately compensated for their extra work and that the organisation operates smoothly without disruptions. Regularly reviewing and updating the policy keeps it relevant and effective in meeting the evolving needs of both the organisation and its employees.

In summary, a clear and detailed Time Off In Lieu policy is a vital component of any organisation’s HR strategy, contributing to a productive, motivated, and satisfied workforce. By following the guidelines outlined in this article, organisations can establish a robust TOIL policy that supports their goals and promotes a healthy work-life balance for their employees.

Articles written by and for SkyHR for our blog and other sections of our main website, https://skyhr.io, by the central SkyHR team

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