How to Ask an Employee to Work Overtime

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When you need overtime efforts, ask an employee respectfully.
When you need overtime efforts, ask an employee respectfully. (Image: Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

When the workload expands and you do not have enough employees to handle the work, overtime hours may be unavoidable. Most public and private sector employees are eligible for overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours in a one-week period. If you need your employees to work extra hours, ask an employee to work overtime. Because employees earn overtime pay for these hours, many are willing to put in the hours.

Explain the situation to your employee. If you are short-staffed, explain the vacant positions and your plan to fill the vacancies with qualified personnel. If seasonal work is increasing the workload, explain that the busy season necessitates more hours. Give details about how long the overtime situation may continue and about your plans to take care of the situation as effectively as possible.

Ask your employee if he will be willing to work a specific number of overtime hours. Ask for a daily or weekly amount of overtime, being realistic about how much extra work time you need from the employee.

Ensure your employee that you will follow the Fair Labor Standards Act and pay overtime pay for the overtime hours worked, provided that the employee is eligible for overtime pay.

Tell your employee that you plan to put in as many overtime hours as you are requesting of her. When your employee sees that you will be working overtime as well, expending extra effort, she will probably feel more willing to work extra hours.

Give your employee extra perks for the overtime efforts. Buy him lunch or dinner while taking a break during an overtime shift. Give him a bonus when the overtime period ends and the workload returns to normal.

Tips & Warnings

  • According to the Zimmerman Reed Attorneys website, an employer can require an employee to work overtime. Even with this right, however, you will receive higher quality work efforts from your employee if you approach your overtime need as a request instead of a demand.

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