Organizational Wellness

Is Time Off in Lieu Right for Your Organization?

Nov 21, 2023
Last Updated May 13, 2024

Sometimes a project requires a few extra hours in the office to make it shine. And — although the satisfaction of success is great  — employees appreciate receiving more than a pat on the back for their additional effort. 

That’s where time off in lieu, or TOIL, comes in. A well-managed TOIL policy can empower HR leaders to reward and retain top employees.

So what is “time off in lieu”? In essence, it is a way for employees to balance their work and personal lives more effectively. An effective TOIL policy helps ensure employees are compensated fairly for their overtime efforts. It can also foster a positive workplace culture where employees feel appreciated and motivated. Let’s delve deeper into the concept of TOIL and explore its advantages and disadvantages.


What Is Time Off in Lieu (TOIL)?

Time off in lieu is a workplace policy that allows employees to take paid time off as compensation for any extra hours they work. Instead of receiving overtime pay for their additional work, employees accumulate TOIL hours. These can later be used to take time off from work without any reduction to the employee’s salary or paid time off balance.

The significance of TOIL in the workplace lies in its ability to promote work-life wellness and employee wellbeing. It provides employees with greater flexibility and control over their time. By offering an alternative to traditional overtime pay, TOIL can be a cost-effective way for employers to reward and retain their employees. 

The concept of lieu time emerged as a response to the growing concerns about labor rights and fair compensation for employees who worked beyond their regular hours, often in strenuous conditions. TOIL was introduced as a means to provide workers with much-needed rest and compensation in lieu of overtime pay. Over time, this policy has evolved in response to changing labor laws and workforce expectations. Today, it is a common practice in many industries, from office work to manual labor jobs.

Time Off in Lieu vs Paid Overtime

TOIL and paid overtime are distinct methods of compensating employees for working beyond their regular hours. TOIL grants employees paid time off as compensation for extra work hours. It emphasizes flexibility, enabling employees to take time off when it suits them. In contrast, paid overtime compensates employees with additional monetary compensation — typically at a higher hourly rate than their regular pay — for each hour worked beyond their standard schedule. Paid overtime is often regulated by labor laws, including provisions for minimum wage and overtime pay rates.

Pros and Cons of TOIL

Advantages of Offering TOIL for Employees

Offering lieu time to employees can bring several advantages to both the workforce and the organization. Some of the common benefits include:

  • Incentive for High-Salary Employees: TOIL can serve as a valuable incentive for high-salary or salaried employees who may not be eligible for traditional overtime pay. When employees at higher income levels are asked to put in extra hours, TOIL provides a meaningful benefit by allowing them to accumulate paid time off. This can motivate them to take on additional responsibilities or contribute more to the organization's success without feeling financially shortchanged.
  • Improved Work-Life Wellness: One of the primary advantages of TOIL is its ability to enhance employees' work-life wellness. By granting them the option to exchange extra hours worked for paid time off, TOIL helps employees manage their personal commitments and reduce burnout. It encourages employees to take breaks and recharge when needed, ultimately leading to increased job satisfaction and overall wellbeing. An improved work-life balance can also have a positive impact on employee productivity since employees are less likely to feel overwhelmed and stressed by their work responsibilities.
  • Moderate Labor Costs: TOIL can also help organizations control labor costs. Unlike paid overtime, which often requires employers to pay a premium wage for extra hours worked, TOIL offers a more predictable and cost-efficient approach to compensating employees for additional efforts. This can be especially advantageous for businesses with fluctuating workloads or seasonal demands. By offering lieu time, organizations can maintain a competitive compensation package while having better control over labor expenses, which is crucial for budget management and financial sustainability.

Disadvantages and Potential Challenges of TOIL

Although there are many advantages, there are several potential challenges to be ready to navigate before you implement a TOIL policy for your organization. These include:

  • Accumulation of Unused TOIL: A common issue with TOIL is the accumulation of unused hours. Employees may accumulate hours but struggle to find appropriate times to take the accrued time off. This can result in a backlog of unused TOIL hours, creating administrative challenges for the organization. To address this, companies need effective policies and mechanisms for employees to use their TOIL in a timely manner.
  • Increased Workload for Management: Managing TOIL can place an additional burden on HR since tracking, approving, and scheduling TOIL requests can be time-consuming. Ensuring it doesn't disrupt workflow or lead to staffing shortages requires careful planning and coordination. Companies may need to invest in software to streamline request management.
  • Employee Resistance and Misuse: Some employees may resist TOIL policies or attempt to misuse them by intentionally working excessive hours to accumulate TOIL without genuine need. To mitigate this, organizations should establish clear guidelines and monitor TOIL usage to ensure it aligns with the intended purpose of providing employees with rest.
  • Managing a Mix of Overtime and TOIL Policies: If an organization has a mix of employees under different compensation structures, such as some receiving paid overtime and others accumulating TOIL, it can create potential inequity. Employees may perceive disparities in compensation for similar work, which could lead to morale issues. Effective communication and transparency are vital to address these concerns and ensure fairness in compensation practices.

Time Off in Lieu Legal Considerations

The legality of time off in lieu varies from one jurisdiction to another. It's crucial for organizations to be well-informed about the labor laws and regulations in their specific region. 

Failing to comply with labor laws regarding TOIL can lead to legal consequences like fines, penalties, and potential lawsuits from employees. Therefore, it's vital for organizations to consult with legal experts and establish clear TOIL policies that align with local labor regulations.

Clear TOIL policies are essential to ensure that both employers and employees understand their rights and responsibilities. These policies should outline how time off in lieu is accrued and when it can be used, as well as any restrictions that apply. 

Tips for Creating a Great TOIL Policy

Establishing a well-structured TOIL policy is essential for ensuring fairness and compliance with labor regulations. Here are some things to keep in mind when creating such a policy.

  1. Policy Objectives and Purpose: Begin by clearly stating the objectives and purpose of your TOIL policy. Explain why the organization is implementing TOIL, such as to reward extra effort, promote work-life wellness, or comply with local labor laws.
  2. Eligibility and Accrual: Define who is eligible for TOIL and specify how TOIL hours are accrued. This should include details on when TOIL begins accruing (e.g., after regular working hours), accrual rates, and any caps or limits on the accumulation of TOIL.
  3. Usage and Approval Process: Outline how employees can request and use TOIL, including the process for submitting TOIL requests and obtaining approval from supervisors or management. Specify any notice periods or restrictions on when TOIL can be taken.
  4. Expiration and Carryover: State whether TOIL hours expire after a certain period or if they can be carried over into the following year. Be sure to comply with local labor laws regarding the use and expiration of TOIL.
  5. Record Keeping and Reporting: Detail how TOIL hours will be recorded and maintained. Consider using a digital time tracking system to streamline this process.
  6. Compensation and Overtime Rates: Explain how TOIL hours are compensated when used, such as whether they are paid at the employee's regular rate or at a different rate for holidays or weekends.
  7. Employee Agreements: Stress the importance of having employees acknowledge and agree to the TOIL policy. Ensure that employees understand the terms and conditions, as well as their responsibilities regarding TOIL usage.
  8. Regular Review and Updates: Mention that the TOIL policy will be reviewed periodically to ensure it remains aligned with organizational needs and labor laws, and that any necessary updates will be communicated to employees.

Calculating TOIL

Accurately calculating lieu time typically involves tracking and recording extra hours worked by employees and converting them into TOIL hours. The formula varies depending on the industry and organizational needs. In some industries, TOIL is straightforward, with one hour of extra work equating to one TOIL hour. Others may use more complex calculations, such as assigning different conversion rates for overtime worked on weekends, holidays, or during specific shifts. 

Accurate TOIL calculation often requires digital time tracking systems or software that can automate the process and account for variations in pay rates and working conditions. It's essential for organizations to establish clear and consistent time off in lieu calculation methods that align with industry standards and local labor laws to ensure fairness and compliance.

Best Practices for Managing TOIL

Effective implementation of TOIL policies is crucial for ensuring fairness and compliance. You can achieve this by:

  • Conducting Trial Runs: Before fully implementing a TOIL policy, consider conducting trial runs or pilot programs with a smaller group of employees. This allows you to identify any potential issues and gather feedback from participants. Trial runs help you uncover practical challenges and make necessary adjustments to ensure the policy functions smoothly when rolled out to the entire workforce.
  • Signing Clear Agreements: Clearly written and signed agreements ensure that each eligible employee understands the terms and conditions, including how TOIL hours are accrued, used, and any restrictions. These agreements provide legal clarity and help manage expectations. 
  • Consistently Applying TOIL Policies: Consistency is key to successfully implementing time off in lieu. Apply the policy uniformly across all employees and departments to avoid favoritism or perceived unfairness. Managers and HR personnel should consistently enforce the rules and procedures outlined in the TOIL policy. Regularly monitor and audit their usage to ensure that it aligns with the policy guidelines. Consistency fosters trust among employees and reduces the risk of disputes or grievances.

One of the most important factors in effective TOIL policy implementation is accurate time tracking. It enables organizations to precisely calculate TOIL accrual, ensuring that employees are fairly rewarded for their efforts while adhering to labor laws and regulations. 

Support a Productive Workforce

Understanding TOIL policies helps employers select the compensation strategy that is best for your team. Over a third of workers say that paid time off is the most desired benefit, so TOIL hours can be a great way to boost employee retention. 

Also essential to retention is workforce wellness. A full  87% of workers say they would consider leaving a company that does not focus on employee wellbeing. 

Connect with a Wellbeing Specialist to discuss how our wellness program can keep your workforce fresh!

Company healthcare costs drop by up to 35% with Wellhub! (* Based on proprietary research comparing healthcare costs of active Wellhub users to non-users.) Talk to a Wellbeing Specialist to see how we can help reduce your healthcare spending!



Wellhub Editorial Team

The Wellhub Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.


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