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Not getting paid for overtime work? This is what the labour law says

Overtime work is regulated by the Basic Conditions of Employment Act. Picture: File

Overtime work is regulated by the Basic Conditions of Employment Act. Picture: File

Published May 19, 2022

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The Basic Conditions of Employment Act states that the maximum working time for an employee earning below the annual threshold of R205 433.30, is 45 hours per week.

This, according to Labour Guide's legal experts Nicolene Erasmus and Jan du Toit, is equal to a maximum of nine hours in a day if you work for five days or less in a week, and eight hours if you are on the job more than five days a week.

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Meal breaks

Meal and tea breaks are not included in the calculation of working hours and will therefore be unpaid, the experts say, adding that, as meal breaks are unpaid the employee can, for instance, read a book or go and do some shopping.

Under section 10 of the Act, the maximum permissible overtime is ten hours in any one week. Employees who earn above the threshold amount are not subject to this.

Those earning over the threshold

If you fall under this category you cannot demand to be paid for overtime worked, nor can you request to be granted paid time off.

However, you do have a right to negotiate, Erasmus says.

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“You can approach the employer to negotiate and reach an agreement on how many normal hours and overtime work will be required from you.

“Once this has been established, the parties must agree on remuneration for the overtime worked. Such remuneration may be less than the minimum prescribed by the Act.”

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Working on a Sunday

If you work on a Sunday you must be compensated at double the normal wage rate for each hour worked. This is unless you ordinarily work on a Sunday, in which case you should be paid at one-and-a-half times your normal wage rate for each hour worked.

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Working on a public holiday

“Should an employee be expected to work on a public holiday – on which they would not normally work, then they must be paid at least his normal daily wage plus the normal wage rate for the hours worked,” Du Toit says.

If you are unable to work overtime

You can legally refuse to work more than 45 hours per week and lawfully reject being told to labour more than 10 hours of overtime per week.

There are some circumstances, however, in which the employee may not be able to refuse, such as in emergency overtime, the experts say.

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