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Volume 406: debated on Monday 9 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what recent estimate her Department has made of the number of employees who are forced to work unpaid overtime as part of their contract of employment; [117371](2) what plans she has to introduce protection for employees not wishing to work unpaid hours overtime; [117372](3) what plans she has to oblige employees to pay their staff for all hours worked. [117373]

We have made no estimate of the numbers of employees who are required to work unpaid overtime.Subject to the Working Time Regulations 1998 and the national minimum wage legislation, working hours and rates of pay, including any arrangements for overtime, are a contractual matter for negotiation and agreement between employers and employees (or their representatives). If workers do not receive a contractually-agreed rate of pay they can seek redress through the employment tribunals or the civil courts. Moreover, workers must be paid at least the national minimum wage on average for the period of time over which their wages are calculated. Employees are protected against dismissal for asserting their right not to suffer unlawful deductions from wages and enforcing their right to the national minimum wage.