09 October 2017

In his fresh article the Guardian reported that a Japanese lady logged 159 hours of overtime in one month which lead to her death. In Japan this is not an isolated case, they even have a word for the death from overwork called ‘karoshi’. Of course, this is an extreme situation and European work culture is different. Nevertheless, it is worth to read the 4 must-knows about the legal conditions of overtime work in Hungary.

1. Is it overtime when the employee works ‘voluntarily’?

Overtime is the amount of time your employee works beyond his normal working hours. This is the case when the normal working schedule is from 9 am to 5 pm but your employee works until 6 pm. Overtime work shall be ordered by the employer, at the request of the employee, in writing.

In labour law disputes employers often argue that they have not ordered overtime work thus the employee is not entitled to overtime pay. Based on the consistent case law this cannot be a valid argumentation. Indeed, if the employer has not ordered overtime but noted and accepted it, the extra effort of the employee shall be considered as overtime work.

On the other hand, the employee shall prove that during the overtime he really worked and not only made chit-chats with his co-workers.

2. How many overtime hours can be ordered?

In case of a full-time job 250 hours of overtime can be ordered annually. Now think of the poor Japanese lady who worked 159 hours overtime in one month.

In case of a part-time job or if the employment begins during the year, the number of overtime hours that can be ordered shall be proportionate.

Overtime work shall be recorded by the employer and the record can be checked by the labour inspectorate.

3. What do you have to pay for overtime work?

Overtime work is not cheap: the employer shall pay extra 50 % of the hourly salary for the overtime. That means that an overtime hour costs you 150 % hourly salary of the employee.

Further you can agree with your employee that you pay him a proportionate monthly lump sum that covers all wage supplements including the overtime pay.

If you do not want to make additional payments there is a possibility to allow your employee to take time off instead receiving overtime pay. The duration of the time-off may not be less than the ordered overtime work and your employee is entitled to his base salary for the period of the time off.

4. Can you order overtime work for every employee?

There are protected groups who cannot be ordered to work overtime. During the pregnancy and until her child reaches the age of 3 the working mother cannot be ordered to work overtime. Similarly, fathers who are bringing up their child alone cannot work overtime until the age of 3 of their child.

Young workers below the age of 18 and workers who work under conditions which may be harmful to his health.

In addition, employers are required to act in good faith when deciding about ordering overtime work. For example, legally you can order overtime work for a mother whose child is 4 years old but it would not make you the fairest employer of the year.

All in all, before ordering overtime work think over whether it is really needed and take into consideration your employee’s circumstances. By doing so you can avoid unnecessary costs and the burnout or health problems of your employees.