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How Do Other Countries Stack Up When It Comes To Paying Overtime Wages?

Putting in overtime hours can be bittersweet for most people. You are spending more time at your job instead of spending time doing what you want. However, for your extra time and effort, you are compensated at a higher than normal rate. It is a pretty fair trade off.

We are all aware that citizens in the United States of America benefit from overtime pay. What about other countries though? Does France pay overtime? What about countries in Asia? For the most part, individual countries are going to differ when it comes to their overtime laws.

United States of America

Let’s start with the familiar one; the United States of America. It is somewhat common knowledge that overtime pay is earned for hours worked in excess of forty during a workweek. It does not matter when or on which day those hours were accrued as long as they are contained within the single week. It does not matter if it was during the night, morning, or weekend. Hours worked are hours worked and you legally entitled to your overtime pay. You can work ten hours one day and five another day but the only way to earn overtime is hitting the illustrious forty for the week.

Employees earn a rate of one and one half during those excess hours. So if you make $10 per hour, your overtime rate is $15 per hour. If you’ve worked forty-five hours in the week, you will earn your $400 to compensate you for the forty hours worked at your normal rate. The additional five hours worked will be payout at the overtime rate, earning you $75. Thus your total pay for the week is $475.

There are also a number of exemptions in the United States. The exemptions are primarily based around job duties and if you earn a salary or are paid hourly. For example, professionals such as doctors, are exempt from earning overtime pay. Additionally, hourly works in a supervisory role are also exempt as long as that supervising or managing is one of their core job functions.

European Union

The European Union comprises most of Europe and attempts to normalize labor laws across Europe. Most of the countries abide by these labor laws which are very similar to the ones in America. However two countries worth pointing out are France and the United Kingdom.

French workers earn time and a quarter for hours worked between 36 and 43 within a week. Anything beyond the 44th hour are paid out at time and one half. The only exemptions are senior managers. Additionally, salaried employees can actually negotiate their overtime requirements which is radically different than the U.S.

The United Kingdom does not actually pay overtime. It sounds like a bummer but their laws also state that no employer can force an employee to work beyond 48 hours in a given week. Therefore, employers cannot abuse the fact that they do not have to pay overtime.


Japan has a longstanding Labor Standards Act enacted in 1947. The act creates a standard eight hour work day and forty hour work week with at least one day off per week. Japanese workers earn 25 percent over their ordinary hourly pay for overtime wages. Additionally, they earn 35 percent over their normal hourly rate for any work done on prescribed days off, and an additional 25 percent for work done between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.


India’s overtime laws are pretty straightforward. Overtime is paid at double the standard rate for any employee working over 9 hours in a day or over 48 hours in a week.


Chinese employees earn time and a half for hours worked over 8 in a day or 44 in a week. Additionally, if the employee has to work overtime on a day off they earn double their standard rate. If someone really wants to take home some high pay, they can work on a public holiday. Chinese employees earn triple their rate for overtime worked on a public holiday in addition to the holiday pay rate.


Our friends to the north have a Federally instituted overtime pay, however it is actually overridden by local laws in provinces and territories. The standard Canadian overtime is usually time and one half the regular rate of pay. However, in British Columbia, it is actually increased to double time if the employee is working over 12 hours in the day. British Columbian overtime also begins after an employee has worked over 8 hours in a day or over 40 hours in the week. This differs from Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island in that they begin overtime after 48 hours worked in a week.

Continuing the local-based overtime regulations is Newfoundland and New Brunswick who pay a flat rate of $15 per hour or the employee’s regular wage for overtime. Employees are paid at whichever rate is greater.

About the author

Andrew Fujii is a marketing professional with expertise in digital/web and content marketing. He is also a copywriter for multiple agencies and a contributes to the Vethan Law Firm blog.

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