Workers not compensated for overtime – April/May 2011

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The International Labor Organisation rules that overtime work should be avoided. However, if it can’t be avoided those who work more hours than agreed must receive extra compensation. This compensation has to be at least the basic hourly wage plus all additional benefits they are entitled to. Yet this international standard is not adhered to, in many countries. 

Workers Not Paid Overtime

This is the main outcome of a comparison between 23 countries, based on 190,000 wage surveys volunteered by Wage Indicator web visitors over the past two years. Included in the report are countries in South America, Eastern Europe, Western Europe and the East.

The report, titled Overtime does not Pay: A comparative analysis of wages in 23 countries in times of recession, is authored by Bruno Perinelli and Victor A. Beker of Argentina, for the Wage Indicator foundation. 

The survey indicates that 41.2 per cent of employees in 2010 worked more hours than previously agreed in their contracts. From this group of overtime workers, only 1.3 per cent received additional compensation. Similarly, in 2009 four out of ten employees worked overtime, but only 1.1 per cent of them were rewarded for their extra efforts.

This picture emerges in almost all countries reviewed, regardless of region or level of development. 

Overtime and Pay in South Africa

While South Africa was not included in the survey, it is realistic to assume that a similar pattern of overtime and underpay is in operation in the country. South Africa has very straightforward rules as far as overtime is concerned – according to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA), all overtime is voluntary and may only be worked by agreement between employer and employee. 

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. However, whether this is being strictly adhered to is questionable, given the international rate of non-compliance.

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