Mandated vs Voluntary Overtime in Shift Work Operations

The use of mandatory overtime often causes contention, but there are no federal rulings that prohibit its use, nor do laws prevent an employer from firing a person who refuses to work mandatory overtime. However, several states have outlawed mandatory overtime in health care professions.

How do shift work operations assign overtime?

Data from 341 North American shift work operations shows that:

  • 73% first asked for volunteers, and then used mandatory overtime if needed because of lack of volunteers.
  • 20% of facilities reported relying exclusively on voluntary overtime
  • 7% reported relying exclusively on mandatory overtime. 

Many workers, both salaried and hourly, who feel the pressure to deliver results or impress management end up working overtime voluntarily. Though this overtime is voluntary, it can often take a large toll on workers if it becomes a chronic work pattern, resulting in many of the same issues associate with mandated overtime.

A study at Cornell University revealed that employees who experience high levels of supervisory pressure to work overtime are 66% more likely to experience depression than those who have moderate to low supervisory pressure. In combination with the higher depression comes higher levels of stress, job-escape drinking problems, absenteeism, and multiple occurrences of injuries at work (only 9% of employees with no supervisory pressure to work overtime reported multiple occurrences of injuries, compared to 16% with high supervisory pressure).

Learn More about Overtime

Want to learn more about overtime? Interested in the ways in which overtime may be impacting your workers? Visit CIRCADIAN to download a free white paper that details optimal staffing levels in 24/7 operations.


CIRCADIAN® is the global leader in providing 24/7 workforce performance and safety solutions for businesses that operate around the clock.  Through a unique combination of consulting expertise, research and technology, software tools and informative publications, CIRCADIAN helps organizations with traditional and/or extended operating hours optimize employee performance and reduce the inherent risks and costs of sleep deprivation and fatigue.

Additional Info

  • References:

Home  |  Privacy Policy  |  Terms of Use  |  Sitemap  |  Contact Us

Sign Up to Receive CIRCADIAN News.



Circadian Headquarters
2 Main Street, Suite 310
Stoneham, MA, 02180, USA

Contact Information
Local: 1.781.439.6300

©2020 Circadian ZircLight, Inc.
All rights reserved.