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Almost 40% of SMEs use TOIL

Research carried out by HR software company, myhrtoolkit, has revealed that almost 40% of SMEs are offering Time Off in Lieu (TOIL) to their staff.

Many employers provide their staff with TOIL for any additional hours they have worked. Where the staff are paid hourly, TOIL can be an alternative to overtime pay which might suit both parties, and where the employees work on a salary, TOIL is a good reward for extra work undertaken beyond the call of duty.

In an anonymised review of its user data, myhrtoolkit found that of its 519 clients, ranging from micro businesses to companies with 1000 staff, 39.5% were using the TOIL feature in its software.

Bob Teasdale, Operations Director at myhrtoolkit says: “We also drilled down a bit further into the data as we were interested to see if there was any clear correlation between size of SME and uptake of TOIL.

“Interestingly, our research revealed that TOIL becomes more popular as the size of SME increases up to the 100-employee mark. For example, 31% of our clients with up to 20 employees use our TOIL feature, 42% of clients with 21-50 staff use it and 52% of clients with 51 to 100 employees use it.

“However, whilst there seems to be a markedly stronger uptake within the 51 to 100 workforce bracket, the percentage of users falls off to 44% for companies with over 100 staff.”

TOIL Stats

Bob says: “TOIL can be very attractive to a lot of SMEs, as it provides the employer with a much less expensive alternative to paying overtime. Giving employees the additional hours back at a time that suits both parties can be very popular for everyone. It can be good for cash flow as well as extra staff cover.”

Managing TOIL so it works for your business

One of the ways SMEs can ensure that TOIL works well for their business is by setting out clear rules as to when TOIL can be accrued and the maximum number of hours that can be accrued.

Nicola Roe, employment solicitor at Ironmonger Curtis says: “TOIL is increasingly being used by a range of different businesses with both employers and employees alike highlighting the real benefits of using a TOIL system.

“I believe the key to the success of TOIL is setting down clearly in writing how TOIL can be used by the business and how TOIL can be accessed by the employee. The danger of unfairness or discrimination rises when the rules are not clear.

“A range of clauses can be added to an employee’s contract relating to the use of TOIL. For example, often clauses are added relating to the maximum additional days that can be accrued and how this time must be taken by the employee. The key tension point often arises for salaried staff who work extra, normally without pay – when does the TOIL kick in? It is quite hard to be consistent.”

Bob Teasdale adds: “It is also very important to have a system in place to keep track of TOIL, otherwise it can end up taking a lot of time to manage, particularly in businesses with lots of staff or where overtime is a regular practice.”

Of course, for some types of business, overtime pay will always be the cultural norm over Time Off in Lieu. That said, myhrtoolkit’s data does underline that whatever the size of your company, you can usually find a way to make TOIL work for your business.