Can you please tell if there is any difference in meaning between work overtime and work on overtime? I came across the following sentence when I was looking up the word overtime in Longman Dictionary.

Many of our offices will be working on overtime until the end of the year.

I'd like to know if the meaning of the sentence would change if on was dropped there.

  • 1
    Staff will have to work overtime to meet the deadline tends to emphasise the fact that staff will have to work more than the usual amount of hours, whereas ...work on overtime... emphasises the fact that the company will have to pay more than the usual wage bill (both for the extra hours worked, and possibly because overtime is paid at a higher hourly rate). Jul 12, 2022 at 16:57

1 Answer 1


'Working overtime' usually refers to working after the expected hours, or longer than the standard hours. This is usually in the context of a job that is not paid on an hourly bases, so the extra time is usually unpaid, and is done to finish something - a project/report etc.

'Working on overtime' refers to jobs where a person is paid on an hourly basis, and hence they work on overtime to earn extra money.

Sometimes they are used interchangeably, but the type of job will give you enough context to differentiate the two.

This is Cambridge's Dictionary definition of 'overtime', where you will find usages of both, 'working overtime' as well as 'working on overtime'.

  • I would say, given the context, that 'working on overtime' is what an office or company does when they can't clear their workload by using their staff only during contracted hours. 'Working overtime' is what a person does when they go over those hours. Jul 12, 2022 at 15:15
  • But 'working on overtime' will always refer to paid overtime, while 'working overtime' may or may not be paid. The usage depends on what the company has specified as billable hours and/or their rules of overtime. Jul 12, 2022 at 15:20
  • But what? The OP question is about the difference between 'working on overtime' and 'working overtime'. My comment provides one. Whether the overtime a person works is paid or not is a different issue. Jul 12, 2022 at 17:39
  • The difference between the two is completely subjective depending on the context. I am simply stating the general conditions of the use of both, which depends on the company itself Jul 12, 2022 at 17:43

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