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Important Information & FAQs -> Legal Tips -> Overtime hours according to the BCEA
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Labour laws like the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) are in place to protect workers against unfair working practices and employers. Here’s what South African labour law has to say about overtime.
Chapter 2, Section 10(1) specifically states that an employer cannot require an employee to work overtime “except in accordance with an agreement”. This essentially means that you cannot be forced to work overtime. However, many employers will include clauses in their employment contracts – signed when you first started, which you may no longer remember reading and agreeing to – along the lines of ‘overtime may be required from time to time”. If you signed this as part of your employment contract, then you are bound to the terms and will have to work overtime as stated. This does not mean that your employer can take advantage, though, as the phrase “from time to time” still indicates that this should be an exception to the norm, and not the norm itself. If overtime requests are frequently happening, you should take the issue up with your line manager and/or HR. The key issue is whether or not the overtime requests are reasonable.
It's also important to note that agreements made between the employer and employee either when you start working for the employer, or during the first three months of employment, will lapse after one year.
Maximum allowed overtime hours according to BCEA Chapter 2, Section 10(b):
No more than –
"(i) three hours' overtime a day; or
(ii) ten hours’ overtime a week."
Employees working in industries under collective agreements, however, may have their ordinary hours of work and overtime averaged over a period of up to four months as regulated by their specified collective agreement.
Your employer's responsibility to pay for overtime work depends on your salary. Currently, if you earn above R241,110.59 per year (the threshold), certain BCEA provisions like regulations on working hours and overtime do not apply to you. This means you cannot legally demand overtime payment and will need to negotiate with your employer.
If you earn below the threshold, the BCEA states that an employer must pay for overtime work as follows:
Each situation is unique, but this is generally how the law is meant to be understood.
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* This is only basic legal advice and cannot be relied on solely. The information is correct at the time of being sent to publishing.
Date added: 19 June 2023
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