TOIL – What it stands for, and it’s function in the workplace


TOIL, what is it? No, we do not mean hard work! Well, not exactly anyway. I am sure you work hard! Anyway – TOIL. TOIL is an acronym, an abbreviation. TOIL stands for “time off in lieu”. Some of you reading this article may already be confused – what exactly is TOIL? How does TOIL work? Does my company use TOIL? Or, for the employers among us, should I introduce TOIL to my company? This article will answer these questions – and more!


What is TOIL and how does it work?

TOIL, as mentioned, is an abbreviation that means “time off in lieu”. This term means that an employee works more hours than they are contracted for (overtime) and, rather be paid overtime, the employer will give the employee time off in the future. Essentially – rather than being paid in cash, you are paid in hours off.

For example, let’s say you are contracted to work a typical 9-5 job. 8 hours work, per day. 5 days per week. 40 hours per week. Every minute you work above your 8 hours per day contract accumulates and, eventually, when enough time accrues, you may take off the time you have banked. For example, if you worked 10 hours per day for your 5 day working week, you will have earnt 10 hours of TOIL.

It is down to your company agreement regarding TOIL if you can take your TOIL off in one go or if you are allowed to spread it over a number of days.

Just remember – if you take time off using your TOIL, you do not get paid for the time you take off. So if you are looking to tag an extra day onto your weekend holiday, TOIL works well for you. However, you cannot exchange TOIL for cash – so you need to decide if you can afford the TOIL you use. Having said that, any TOIL that is not used by the date set out in your company TOIL policy does need to be paid to you in cash.


Pros and cons of TOIL

Of course, as with the majority of things, there are positive and negatives to the use of TOIL. Some will feel their business thrives using TOIL as a scheme, others – not so much. This section of the article will talk about the pros and cons of using such a scheme.



1. Employee Benefits

Perhaps the most appealing aspect for certain employees is the perceived benefits of such a scheme. Although money is always a great incentive, let’s be honest: time off is a great incentive to work longer hours. In another article on LeaveMonitor, I discuss employee benefits – as an employer, you should decide whether TOIL is an incentive worth implementing in your company

2. Employer Benefits

Certain times of the year are always more stressful and intense than others. For retail it is Christmas. For hospitality, it is summer or events like Mother’s Day. Thus – is it an incentive to offer TOIL so employees are motivated to work overtime and take time off when things are more relaxed? Potentially, for sure.

 3. Money-related issues

For companies, particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic, money is an issue. Now, if someone is being paid, let’s say, £10 an hour and they work 2 hours overtime for 4 days. That is another £80 you owe them. Let’s say you have 3 or 4 staff members doing that. Suddenly it is £240 or £320 you owe. It may appeal to you as the employer to offer TOIL to avoid financial strain during these more difficult times.



1. Employees may take advantage of the scheme

So, we have discussed why an employee may decide to join a company using the TOIL scheme for the added flexibility. However, do you, the employer, want to see various members of staff working longer hours just to accrue TOIL that they can take off at a later date? Maybe not.


2. Decreased quality of work

Linking to the above, if too many hours are worked – work may become sloppy. Although not directly related, my article on employee wellbeing references employee burnout and what an employer can do to mitigate the risk of workplace stress. As an employer, you need to decide whether it is responsible or not to offer a scheme which may directly contribute to employee burnout.


3. Money-related issues

Although we have discussed in this article how an industry struggling for money may find TOIL helpful, as referenced at the beginning of the article, any unused TOIL will have to be paid.


How to create a TOIL policy for the workplace

Take time over creating your policy – you don’t want to create a restrictive policy that discourages employees to take TOIL. However, you also don’t want to create a scheme that can be easily exploited and abused.

  1. Get your employee to sign the policy agreement. Written consent is indisputable.
  1. Set a date for TOIL to be used. Don’t give employees too long to use TOIL – alternatively don’t give them such a short time any TOIL accrued is insignificant. Usually a year is used in TOIL policies.
  1. Give a minimum amount of TOIL that can be taken. For example, if employees are expected to work from 9am, you don’t want employees turning up at 9:15 and using their TOIL to excuse sloppy behaviour.


Hopefully, this article has helped you understand TOIL, how it works, how it is used and the pros and cons of such a scheme for an employee and an employer. Feel free to start a trial account with LeaveMonitor to see how we can make employee leave easier to manage!