Perhaps the three witches in William Shakespeare’s Macbeth had it right all along when they chanted their hymn of “double, double toil and trouble: fire burn and cauldron bubble”. Their reference of course had nothing to do with TOIL being an acronym for Time Off In Lieu – the latest weapon in the work – life balance for many employers.

But perhaps in hindsight  the witches had it right all along, as for many employees whilst the gift of TOIL has been conceded by their employers is it in the best interest of their career to claim or is that in fact just going to cause them a lot of trouble down the line.

TOIL is the latest concept in the current debate over the work-life balance. TOIL is already used within the civil service and across the public sector. However even big businesses such as BT plc see the benefit of a happy and stress free work force.

TOIL arises where an employee has worked their contractual hours and rather than receiving overtime for any additional work they can simply claim TOIL. They can tot up the extra hours which they work and use them when it is of more benefit to both them and the employer.  If you work an extra hour you get an extra hour at a more mutually convenient time. Hours can be added up at the end of the week or month and the accrued time taken as additional holiday. Travel can also be included within your TOIL timetable where the travel in is addition to your standard travel. It is most unusual for ordinary journeys to and from work to be included, but if you are working away from the office or taking extra time in meeting clients then this additional time can be included. As too can any additional time you spend working at home writing reports or even checking e-mails. TOIL is not a statutory benefit given as of right, but something to negotiate with your employer either at the start of a contract or at the most appropriate time.

So TOIL seems great. An excellent way for employees to receive proper recompense for putting in those extra hours. If the employer can not afford to pay overtime then the employee can earn a few extra holiday days. Or put more simply get back the time they put into the employer’s business. But the dilemma is do you actually take your TOIL time or do you just knuckle down and give the time freely to your employer in the hope that you get noticed for the right reasons and are rewarded not with extra days of holiday but with a cash bonus and promotion.  If you do take your TOIL and the rest of the team does not avail themselves of taking their time off are you really seen as a team player or the sort of person that the company is looking for? When it comes to promotion is the employer going to give the post to the person who works the overtime freely or the one who meticulously marks up the extra time and claims it as TOIL?