Overtime Pay in South Africa

21/11: It’s that time of year in South Africa when businesses are open late for retail sales and companies want to get their work finished – which means Overtime Pay for employees. But just how much are employees entitled to, and how does the system work? While overtime rules form part of South Africa’s labour laws, there are some variations that apply in certain circumstances, and workers need to be aware of these before claiming Overtime Pay.

According to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA), the maximum normal working time allowed is 45 hours weekly.  This is nine hours per day (excluding a lunch break) if the employee works a five-day week, and eight hours per day (excluding a lunch break) if the employee works more than 5 days per week.

All overtime work is voluntary and may only be worked by agreement between employer and employee. The maximum permissible overtime is three hours on any one day or 10 hours in any one week. Remuneration must be at 1, 5 times the normal wage rate except for Sunday work and work on public holidays, which must be remunerated at twice the normal wage rate. Time off, calculated on the same formula, may be granted instead of payment, but only by agreement with the employee.

Who is exempt from being paid?

Employees who earn in excess of the present threshold amount are not subject to the overtime pay rate. This means that such employees cannot demand to be paid for overtime worked, nor can they demand to be granted paid time off in view of payment. However, contrary to popular belief, the employer also cannot force such employees and cannot demand that they work without compensation. 

All forced labour is prohibited, and should the employer require such employees to be working overtime then the hours to be worked and the basis of compensation must be negotiated with the employee. 

 What about overtime on short notice? 

Overtime is not compulsory, and employees can refuse to work overtime on short notice. 

However, an employee cannot refuse to work overtime if the work which is required to be done must be done without delay owing to circumstances for which the employer could not reasonably have been expected to make provision, such as the sudden breakdown of equipment, and which cannot be performed by employees during the ordinary hours of work.  

Read more about Overtime and Compensation

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