What can be done when an employer orders the employees to work for excess hours than the contract term?

What can be done when an employer orders the employees to work for excess hours than the contract term?

Everyone, at some point of time in their career, faces a poor work environment. This could be due to office politics, inability to handle emotional stress or a more serious violation of rights. The often repeated advice in such cases is to look for alternative job as only few have the courage or resources to take on their employers and put a fight for their rights.

In our country we often get to hear that the employees have to work for more than that of what they are being paid. This happens in the form of overtime which the employees have to deliver for the organisation. If it is mentioned in the contract that they to impart certain number of hours for the organisation in the form of overtime then that is validated if it does not breach the existing laws dealing with overtime condition, but if the employees have to deliver their service for more than what required as per the contractual terms then that is illegal and breach of contract from the employer side. If these circumstances arises then what can an employee do? Is there any provision of law through which he can get benefitted? We will have a look on that in this article.

With the growing competition in the industry it becomes hard for the organisation to sustain if they are not hustling hard. Everyone in the industry want to mark their presence in the best possible way. For that the organisation need a bunch of skillful, competent and efficient employees. The Human Resource Department of the organisation also makes sure that every employee in the organisation is satisfied with the policies and gives his best toward the organisation. There are times when the employees have to work for a longer period of time than that of the normal regular working hours because of some work which have to be done urgently or the deadlines are very close, in that case the company’s overtime policy must clearly state the reporting time and the working hours for all employees with the provisions relating to leaves and holidays. The HR policy must also include the company’s policy about any remuneration for the extra time any employee works.

The overtime work ought to be voluntarily taken up by the employee and should not be forced through an involuntarily or fraudulently signed agreement. However in those conditions if the working hours exceed than that of mentioned in the contractual terms then the employees have the right to decline that work. The employees also have the option to drag the opposite party to the court for the violation of contract.

Note – It is always advisable to go through the contract very thoroughly and negotiate on the terms where needed. There are certain guidelines according to law, through which the working hours and overtime clause of the employee has been defined. If the contract violates those laws then the employee should negotiate before signing that contract.

The law has given a proper guideline relating to the overtime policy.There are numerous overtime rules and procedures in India specifying different periods of working hours under the labor law. Section 51 and Section 59 of the Factories Act – 1948[i] states,

“No employee is supposed to work for more than 48 hours in a week and 9 hours in a day. Any employee who works for more than this period is eligible for overtime remuneration prescribed as twice the amount of ordinary wages.”

Similarly, Section 14 of the Minimum Wages Act, 1948[ii] states,

“When the minimum wages of an employee are fixed for a particular period of time and the employee works beyond that period, then the employee has to be paid overtime wages for the extra time.”

According to the Law an employee is subject to 8-9 working hours per day which equals a total of 48-50 hours a week. Overtime is that period for which an employee has to work in excess of their working hours. The company owes you what it promises as per your contract, be it monetary benefits or anything else and if the company fails to deliver the dues, you can drag them to court.

Now if there arises any dispute regarding the overtime policy which the employer wants you to do irrespective of the contractual terms then you can lodge a complain against him and sue him in the court. “Filing a case against your employer is not an easy task as he is likely to have better resources. However, that does not mean one should back off. There are various laws that are aimed at protecting the rights of employees.”

Firstly, start by approaching the human resource department of the company. It will be in a better position to explain where you stand legally and will help resolve the issue. You can also lodge a formal complaint directly with the department and give them adequate time to evaluate your situation and suggest to a solution. You could also try some form of mediation through an agency.

If you decide to take the matter to court, then ensure that you prepare yourself well for it. Keep Maintaining a record of all the incidents that you think were wrong or were violating your rights. If possible, try to note down the date and time as well. This will be very useful to your lawyer, who will be able to deduce if you have a case at all. You can also use this information even while discussing the matter with your HR team. You can also go through older cases similar to yours.. Also, go through the ‘employees handbook’ and the contract to understand the company policy. This will give you a better and fair idea of where you stand legally.

If the employer finds at fault contravening these provisions then he would be liable for punishment of imprisonment up to 2 years and fine of up to Rs. 1 lakh or both and if the employer continues to violate the provisions after conviction, then a fine of Rs. 1000 per day is levied for each day of violation.

Edited by Pushpamrita Roy

Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje 


[i] Employee Overtime Rules & Procedures – (refer from page 39 – 41) – The majority of the working sector does not know that for overtime beyond working hours, employees hold certain rights that they need to exercise, as per the labor laws in India.

[ii]  The Minimum Wages Rules, 1950 –  The wages of an employed person shall be paid to him without deduction of any kind except those authorized by or under these rules.