We have all gone through it once. You still have to send a number of emails and tick off some more tasks before you can go home. And before you know it, you are late for dinner. There goes your evening off, again.

Research has shown that long-term overtime can cause both physical and mental problems. For instance burnout or depression. In this blog post, we will tell you the different types of overtime and the dangers that overtime can bring.

The different types of overwork

There are to types of overtime. We can best define this as ” voluntary ” versus ” involuntary ”.


Voluntary overtime happens (as the word indicates) on a voluntary basis. You decide that you are working overtime, because you want to complete a specific task, or because you soon have an important meeting for which more work is required. This type of overtime does not have to be a problem, as long as your work / life ratio is in balance. However, it is important that this kind of overtime is not done structurally!

As long as voluntary overtime is limited to a maximum of 4 hours per week, it can actually benefit the employee. Working overtime can also give a lot of satisfaction. For example, if you just finish that one job, you feel more competent or satisfied, so you ultimately feel happier.


Involuntary overtime is usually accompanied by the fact that the work pressure is too high, too much work has to be done within the regular working hours and on a structural basis. In the case of structural overtime, you structurally run more hours every week than is included in your employment contract. Think of, on average, more than 48 hours per week.

The tasks pile up on your desk (you have too many tasks, and too little time), so you have to start making longer days. You have to, because the tasks have to be completed anyway.

Involuntary overtime can have major consequences for your health. The risks are increased the moment that overtime is not paid extra and there are insufficient recovery possibilities.

What can you do?

As long as you are the one who decides whether you work overtime (and how long), you will not have any problems in the long term. Especially when it’s not on a structural basis.  But are you forced to work involuntarily on a structural basis? Then start a conversation with your employer.

It is unlikely that you (if you are a valuable employee) run the risk of being punished if you open up to your employer. And is this the case? Then you better think about whether you want to continue working at such a company…

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