Labour Rights

Overtime is routinely unpaid


All workers have the right to just and favourable conditions of work and to equal pay for equal work.


However, it is often unclear to workers whether they are entitled to be paid overtime. It can be customary practice in a particular industry to take such hours into account when fixing remuneration, rather than providing overtime payments. Generally, all hours worked in excess of normal working hours should be considered overtime hours, depending on local law requirements and the employment contract (if there is one). Employers must ensure they comply with their legal obligations to pay overtime, and not withhold information or fail to monitor or record overtime hours.


Workers in certain industries (especially in manufacturing and in private households) are often required by their employers to work hours in excess of their normal hours without receiving the overtime pay required by law. Research shows that many low-wage workers, especially those in the garment and hardware manufacturing industries, are routinely unpaid for overtime work. This adds to the challenges facing minimum wage workers who may rely on overtime pay for survival.


A number of lawsuits have been filed against employers for overtime pay violations, including for withholding overtime pay, making employees work “off the clock” and withholding tips. Business owners and managers need to ensure that they are not unintentionally violating relevant regulations and conventions by failing to have a clear and concise system in place for workers to record and claim overtime pay. Care should also be taken to ensure that overtime is paid on time.

Relevant Human Rights Instruments

Convention Limiting the Hours of Work in Industrial Undertakings to Eight in the Day and Forty-eight in the Week, 1919 (No. 1)
Convention concerning the Regulation of Hours of Work in Commerce and Offices,
1930 (No. 30)
Recommendation concerning Reduction of Hours of Work, 1962 (No. 116)



SDG 8.5

Compensating workers fairly for overtime work assists in the achievement of SDG 8.5: By 2030, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value.

SDG 8.7
Ensuring fair pay for overtime also furthers SDG 8.7: Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms.

SDG 8.8
Companies that contribute to workplace safety contribute to SDG 8.8: Protect labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants, and those in precarious employment.