Overtime does not pay - January 2011

A Wage Indicator survey held in 23 countries across the globe indicates that 41.2 per cent of the employees in 2010 worked more hours than previously agreed in their contracts. From this group of overtime workers, only 1.3 per cent received additional compensation. Similarly, in 2009 four out of ten employees did overwork, but only 1.1 per cent of them were rewarded for their extra efforts. The conclusion therefore can be that overtime does not pay from the point of view of the individual worker. This outcome of the most recent Wage Indicator study, published in December 2010, at the same time suggests that the impact of the current recession is not translated into more pressure on workers to put in extra hours.

Latin America

Region by region, the analysis shows that in four out of the five Latin American countries in our sample the percentage of overtime workers increased in 2010: in Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Mexico between 0.4 and 3.1 percentage points. It fell with 2.4 percentage points in Colombia. The proportion of those who got extra compensation for overtime slightly decreased, with the exception of Brazil and Colombia which show a slight increase in extra rewards.


From the eight European countries that reduced overtime, Belgium is exceptional with a 5.7 percentage point contraction. On the other hand, six European countries show overwork increases. In France and the United Kingdom particularly, where this proportion rose 5.3 percentage points in 2010, as compared to 2009. Regarding extra compensation, nine out of the fourteen European countries in the Wage Indicator study saw a rise in rewarded overtime workers. Yet, even so, a massive portion of overtime work is not correctly compensated for in those countries. Not compensating properly for overwork continues to be the rule in Europe.


Overwork shows a dramatic 7.3 percentage points increase in Kazakhstan and a moderate 0.3 points growth in India between 2009 and 2010. By contrast, it fell by 1.8 points in Indonesia. Like everywhere else, the proportion of compensation for overtime work is strikingly low in these countries, even though it grew a little in Indonesia and Kazakhstan.

Nearly 190,000 questionnaires completed through the worldwide Wage Indicator network in 2009 and 2010 were incorporated in this Overtime does not Pay-study. Also the minimum wage figures, collected and published by the Wage Indicator, were drawn on. Next to overtime compensation, the December 2010-report looks at payment behaviour in terms of minimum wages, and regularity of pay. It concludes with sections on satisfaction with pay, income stability and the gender pay gap.

Overtime does not Pay – Quaterly report Wage Indicator Download (pdf, 1.7 MB)

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