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What is TOIL and How Does it Work?

18 November 2019 5 min read

what is TOIL

Many businesses allow employees to build up and take TOIL, benefiting both the employee and the business. There are, however, some businesses that do not allow TOIL and they have a very valid reason for this.

Now some of you may be thinking, “Whoa, slow down, what is this TOIL you are going on about?”. Well if you are thinking that, you have come to the right place.

This article explains what TOIL is and how it works, how employees can take it, the pros and cons and if you are thinking about introducing it, what should go into your TOIL policy.

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What is TOIL?

TOIL is an abbreviation that means ‘time off in lieu’. It is a term used when an employee works extra hours on top of those they are contracted to. TOIL then allows the employee to take the extra hours they worked off at a later date.

How does it work

TOIL is very simple, for every minute extra you work on top of what you are contracted to, you can accumulate this extra time and take it off. An example of this would be if you are contracted to do 8 hours a day, but for one week you work 9 hours every day. This would mean you have accrued, 5 hours of TOIL, which can then be taken off in one go or spread over a few days depending on the business’s TOIL policy.

How employees can use their TOIL

If an employee has accrued enough TOIL that amounts to a whole day, this would allow them to take a whole day off. This extra day works just like a normal holiday, meaning they can tag it onto the end of a weekend to have a long weekend, not use it and get paid instead, or maybe just use it as a duvet day.

Pros and cons of TOIL

There are positives and negatives to offering employees TOIL, with some businesses seeing the positives outweigh the negatives, with others seeing it the other way around.


  1. Dealing with busy periods – By offering paid overtime you can manage increased busy periods and finish important projects off quicker.
  2. Reduce financial stress – It can come as a huge relief for those employees who are having financial issues if the business offers TOIL. Employees can work extra hours and get paid for them instead of taking them as a holiday. Meaning employees don’t need to look for a part-time job to help them financially, which could affect their current work.
  3. An additional benefit – A lot of employees will see this as a nice benefit making the business more attractive, meaning they would be less likely to look for a job elsewhere.


  1. Taking advantage – Employees may try and drag out projects and stay late after work just so they can accrue TOIL and have an extra day off.
  2. Cost to business – If an employee decided not to take the extra time they accrued off, then the business would be required to pay them for this.
  3. Long working hours – Some employees may look to work longer hours each day, so they only have to work 4-day weeks. This may cause increased tiredness and result in sloppy work.

What should go in a TOIL policy

A TOIL policy can be difficult to create and one you will need to take your time over creating. You don’t want to create a policy that annoys employees by setting different rules for different groups of people, but you also need to create one that doesn’t allow employees to abuse overtime. Here are a few key things you should include:

Written consent – We would highly recommend that in your policy you include the fact that employees who want to work overtime, must get this in writing and not just verbally. This way there are no issues when a dispute arises between a manager and employee about approved overtime.

Set a date for when TOIL needs to be used – Another key area you should include in your policy is when TOIL needs to be taken. It is probably best to just use your holiday year and whenever that ends, is when an employee needs to use their TOIL by.

Minimum TOIL is taken at one time – Setting a minimum amount of TOIL that can be taken at once, will not only help you keep track of all the TOIL being taken, it will stop employees just coming in 30 minutes late every day. This could annoy other employees who just think they are constantly late and never been disciplined for it.


TOIL can be hard to manage, but lucky enough our amazing absence management software can track TOIL for you. If you would like to know how you can manage TOIL using our online platform, book a demo, and one of our software consultants can take you through the system.


See how our overtime and TOIL module works and how we can help you manage your absence better.

Request a demo>

Katrina Bennett People Director at edays
November 18, 2019

Katrina is edays' own People Director with significant UK and international experience in delivering people strategy and value-adding HR solutions across a range of organisations and sectors (including Arriva, Boots, Rolls Royce, the utility and charity sectors). Katrina has over 20 years of experience in Human Resources and is CIPD qualified.