When business needs change at short notice, or to meet peaks in demand, then from time to time they’ll require their staff to be flexible in their working schedules. This means a business may sometimes need its employees to work extra hours. That might mean staying late to finish a project, working on a weekend when there’s fewer interruptions to get a big job done, bringing in staff for a few hours to cover a particularly busy period or if someone calls in sick at the last minute. When that happens, employers often use TOIL as a means of compensating staff.
What is TOIL?
TOIL stands for Time Off In Lieu, and TOIL occurs when there is a contractual clause between you and your employee where they take time off in lieu of extra hours that have been worked rather than any additional overtime pay. More often than not, TOIL tends to be used for staff who are paid an annual salary rather than those who are paid an hourly rate.
How should TOIL be managed?
First and foremost, TOIL should be managed clearly and consistently across a business so that staff are treated equitably and the approach to TOIL doesn’t create issues and grievances, whereby some staff feel that others are benefitting from it and they aren’t. There will always be teams and roles where TOIL is more likely to occur than others, but as long as staff are treated fairly then problems can be avoided.
It is also important to establish in your contract that staff will be entitled to TOIL rather than overtime payments. On top of that, setting out how TOIL operates by having a detailed TOIL policy will prevent any confusion or misunderstandings as staff will be clear on what they can expect from you as their employer and what is expected of them. Whatever you decide to do there are a number of key points to be mindful of and which should be covered in your TOIL policy:
- How is TOIL requested?
- Who approves TOIL requests?
- How is TOIL recorded?
- Is TOIL accrued minute by minute or is there a minimum amount of TOIL which can recorded, e.g. recording in 15 minute increments
- Is TOIL for evenings, weekends and bank holidays all accrued at the same rate of a one-to-one ration or are there times when it accrues at time and a half or even double time?
- Is there a maximum amount of TOIL that can be accrued within a set period?
- Can employees carry TOIL over from year to year?
- When should accrued TOIL be used by?
- What is the process for requesting and approving for when accrued TOIL is being taken back?
- What happens to accrued TOIL when someone leaves?
What are the issues with TOIL?
If TOIL is not managed carefully, and if your business does not have a TOIL Policy, then it can cause problems. Without a proper approval mechanism, some employees may come in early and finish late, or work through lunch and class that as TOIL even though there is no business need. If your TOIL policy is not followed consistently across the business then staff may feel aggrieved. This can easily lead to issues of team morale, lower engagement, lower levels of performance and productivity.
Ultimately mismanagement of TOIL or a failure to implement your TOIL Policy can also impact on retention or cause employee relations issues which are time consuming to resolve. It is also important to be clear if TOIL is the only option for additional hours or if there will be instances in which overtime payments are offered instead. Without close supervision, TOIL can also be used to mask issues of efficiency and productivity. Some employees may try and exploit TOIL and slow down productivity to then accrue TOIL in making up for lost time. If TOIL becomes the norm this needs to be reviewed as it could be that you need to change your staffing model, rotas or even recruit to give you more capacity.
Can HRX help me with TOIL?
Streamlining the administration of TOIL is an effective way of managing it. In the employee documents section of HRX, you can upload your company TOIL policy so that all staff are clear on what the rules are and how they are applied. A TOIL spreadsheet which can then be used to log TOIL and manage it without the need for paper based manual processes can also be added to everyone’s employee documents so that it is easy to access and can be saved and submitted for approval with a few quick clicks.
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