I am looking for a slang word to describe the situation, where you are voluntarily working overtime at your job, but without getting paid.

E.g. if you stay late at your work because you would like to solve a specific problem; and you do that voluntarily with no pay because it is in your own interest.

It could also be the fact that you stay late to show your manager that you are willing to put down the work that needs to be done (perhaps so you may get a raise or a promotion in time); sort of an investment in your job.

Are there any fun or slang words to describe this?

In Danish we have the words "Interessetid" or "Interessetimer", which essentially translates to "Interest time" or "Interest hours".



Just for clarification, I am not referencing forced overtime. I am thinking about salaried work where in some industries it is common to work overtime - even though you are not getting paid extra to do so. Think about Banking, Consulting or legal work. In banking many people work maybe 60 hrs per week - even though their contract only states 40 hrs. Therefore the last 20 hrs. would be "voluntary overtime" (or the fun slang word I am looking for here, to describe this).

  • 5
    There's "burning the midnight oil", but that doesn't necessarily imply you're not getting paid extra for the work. Hmm, let me think on it.
    – Neil
    Apr 26, 2018 at 8:11
  • 2
    According to da.wikipedia, it seems interessetid/time is something the employer expects from the employee and is illegal too.
    – mplungjan
    Apr 26, 2018 at 9:07
  • @Neil It doesn't actually need to imply you are not getting paid extra, was just looking for a fun/slang way of describing working late.
    – ssn
    Apr 26, 2018 at 10:08
  • 2
    @Tᴚoɯɐuo - Ouch. I think "fun" here means "humorous" or "tongue-in-cheek," and maybe even "informal." Or maybe our learner meant "funny".
    – J.R.
    Apr 26, 2018 at 14:05
  • 1
    For salaried work, overtime does not apply. If you really like working extra, perhaps it's just "pleasure work".
    – Suncat2000
    Apr 27, 2018 at 19:30

13 Answers 13


In the second sense that you note:

stay late to show your manager that you are willing to put down the work that needs to be done

I would say(and have said) that I am

Banking my attaboys

meaning that I am getting intangible benefits for the extra work being done in the hope of some future payoff.

I have no idea how well understood this would be outside of the US, or by anyone but me for that matter.

A less "fun", but perhaps better understood phrase could be

Building my good name(or reputation)

  • 1
    I actually really like the “banking my attaboys”. This is the kind of phrase I’m looking for.
    – ssn
    Apr 26, 2018 at 20:25
  • 4
    @ssn I would be cautious actually using "banking my attaboys" in speech, though. It's a nice turn of phrase, but without an explanation I (a native American English speaker) would have no idea what was meant.
    – Sparksbet
    Apr 26, 2018 at 22:16
  • 14
    More idiomatic than "banking my attaboys" is "scoring brownie points" to communicate the same idea.
    – user70585
    Apr 26, 2018 at 22:37
  • 2
    Just to clarify, since I don't think anyone has entirely explained it. "Attaboy" is a portmanteau and shortening of "that's a (good) boy", basically translating as "good job" or "you've done well". In context, to "Bank" it would be to generate and maintain goodwill from authority figures so that in future, they're more inclined to be supportive. Apr 27, 2018 at 11:26
  • 3
    I have heard "attaboy", but never "banking your attaboys".
    – swbarnes2
    Apr 27, 2018 at 17:48

There's a term "after hours" which means after the usual hours of work:

I often do some of my own work after hours

Hyphenated, after-hours can be used as an adjective, e.g. after-hours work

(another source and Google Books examples).


In US (in my experience) salaried workers often describe this as "off the clock" -- i.e. working, but not officially recording the time and thus not getting paid for it. I would call this informal speech but not quite slang.

But for hourly workers who do get overtime pay, "off the clock" instead means time NOT working -- and as a result not getting paid -- such as a lunch break, mandatory rest periods for a truck driver, travelling to and from the workplace, etc.

  • "off the clock" many times is used in reference to hourly workers that are working but not getting paid... generally illegal, at least in the US.
    – JeffC
    Apr 27, 2018 at 16:26

This applies to the UK, and may not apply to other countries

In the UK, it is common for salaried employees to stay late at work voluntarily - without compensation. As such, there tends not to be a need to state that you weren't being paid - it's implied.

Although they don't really involve slang, some common phrases are:

I was working late

I stayed late last night.

I've been staying past my hours recently.

That said, if your employer is forcing you to work beyond your regular hours, (vulgar) slang tends to appear more often:

My work has been [offensive sexual action]ing me

I'm getting [offensive sexual action]ed by management, they won't let me go home till [hour].

And in software, a common term used is:

We're crunching/we've been in crunch.

Which refers specifically to working far too many hours, in an extremely short space of time - at the detriment of your wellbeing (almost always driven by bad management, and not voluntary).

To be clear though, in the UK - there is a societal expectation that salaried employees will work till their workload is complete, and not be compensated extra for it. As such, people tend to focus more on whether they have too much work, and how stressful things are - rather than the fact they aren't being compensated. People who are compensated overtime, will tend to mention that fact explicitly as it is not the norm.

  • This is exactly the phenomenon I am looking for. Salaried employees who are staying beyond their "hours" (even though they are not getting paid extra to do so). E.g. your last one with: "crunching" is a fun describtion/slang. Wondered if there is anything that can be used in broader terms than in Software; where people would understand what you mean when saying it.
    – ssn
    Apr 26, 2018 at 10:18
  • Oh, getting fucked definitely happens in the US too, except here it's illegal.
    – Mazura
    Apr 27, 2018 at 1:00
  • @Mazura I think it is illegal in many countries but employers still expect it.
    – jkd
    Apr 27, 2018 at 3:45
  • 1
    @Mazura It varies in the UK. In general, they can only demand overtime if your contract says so, but most places will put it in the contract just in case. Even so, there's a limit to how much overtime you can do per week (unless you sign an agreement saying otherwise), and your average hourly wage including overtime isn't allowed to go below the statutory minimum wage. Employers often handle this by offering time off in lieu (conveniently shortened to TOIL) - basically, they give you more time off as a substitute for pay. Normally one hour of overtime nets you one hour off, but not always. Apr 27, 2018 at 15:29
  • 2
    @person27 I'm not sure what you are trying to say... I'd like to see someone work more than 24 hours a day whether it's legal or not...
    – JeffC
    Apr 27, 2018 at 16:24

You can say:

"Unpaid overtime" or "after hours".


I had a boss who would add bits of functionality in his off hours for fun.

He was basically programming stuff he was curious about, and didn't want to bother with setting up a new project, so he'd implement it as part of our codebase.

We called it a "Saturday project", even though they happened in the evenings as well.

me: Hey, that's nifty, when did we start supporting X?

coworker: What? Oh, that was one of [name]'s Saturday Projects.

me: Cool... have we back-filled tests for it yet?

coworker: Nope, you got it this time?


"Volunteer to work overtime" or "work unpaid overtime" are the closest phrases I can think of in that situation, which essentially means what you stated. This first implies that you are choosing to work overtime without getting paid, and not being forced to do so. The second is more free-form.

I'm not aware of a direct one- or two-word slang for the situation.

  • It doesn't need to be a one- or two-word slang, can be a phrase as well; just not plain english.
    – ssn
    Apr 26, 2018 at 10:11
  • "Overtime" or, if you want to be clear, "Volunteer Overtime" is what I am used to hearing. There is no "fun" way to describe it. Most people resent being asked to contribute even more time to their jobs and likewise often resent others who do too, because it raises the employer's expectations. I can imagine a few different vulgarities that might be used as descriptors, but nothing I would describe as 'fun'. Apr 26, 2018 at 17:09

I'm just going to come out and say that English does not have a word or even a familiar phrase that conveys anything like Interessetid. Someone could say "I worked on it on my own time just because I was interested", but that's just a description of the situation.

It is interesting that the answers so far tend to involve working extra time because of the demands of the job. There doesn't seem to be a vocabulary in English for talking about time spent on the job just because you like it, though it certainly happens. I'm not sure what that says about Anglophone culture. (Or what the existence of Interessetid says about Danish culture.)


You could say

I'm putting my nose to the grindstone.


I've got my nose to the grindstone.

That sounds like fun, doesn't it?

  • 8
    I'd say "nose to the grindstone" relates more to working very hard (usually because you're made to or feel you have to, rather than just because you want to). It does relate to working long hours, but usually because we associate that with 'working hard'. Apr 26, 2018 at 12:36
  • @Ralph Bolton: OP says these long hours are put in "perhaps so you may get a raise or a promotion in time...an investment in your job". He has not said that the work is done for the sheer joy of it.
    – TimR
    Apr 26, 2018 at 13:29
  • @Tᴚoɯɐuo Could relate to both “in your own interest” or “because you find it interesting”
    – ssn
    Apr 28, 2018 at 10:18
  • @ssn: in your own interest does not mean "because you find it interesting or amusing". It means that you are doing something because it is beneficial to you (often at the expense of someone else).
    – TimR
    Apr 28, 2018 at 14:33
  • @ssn: We could say It's in my interest to work late. The company tends to reward extra efforts with promotions and raises. But we don't have a noun in English which is a label for those extra hours worked out of self-interest. We could also say I'm putting in those extra hours on my own time, which would mean that you're not getting paid for them.
    – TimR
    Apr 28, 2018 at 14:37

You could use Unsalaried overtime or Uncompensated overtime

This is matching the Danish “interessetid” which is a compound word anyway I do not know any slang matching this

  • These are not slang though?
    – ssn
    Apr 26, 2018 at 10:15

You could say workaholic.

You can read in Google translate: This is a person who compulsively works hard and long hours.

  • 2
    This describes the person, but not the situation.
    – J.R.
    Apr 26, 2018 at 13:58
  • 1
    --workaholism-- Apr 27, 2018 at 7:23
  • @J.R. What about "being a workaholic" or "becoming a workaholic"? I think that the slang part has been nailed here.
    – RubioRic
    Apr 27, 2018 at 9:58
  • 1
    @RubioRic - That's closer – but that's not what this answer says.
    – J.R.
    Apr 27, 2018 at 11:01

I've heard the term 'Slave labour' used as slang in the UK.

potentially offence so this might depend heavily on your audience.


Probably the best slang expression for this that I've seen was in the memoirs Blue Collar, Blue Scrubs by Dr. Michael J. Collins. He describes how his (building construction) employer expected employees to work several hours in the mornings before paid time began. This was referred to as "working for the Church"--which I like because it suggests both a sense of charity, and some kind of tithe.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .