Paymaster Magazine

Overtime and shift work

ime-and-a-half, double-time and normal hours

Accurate capturing and managing your employees’ hours worked is essential, and a reliable and reputable time and attendance system will ensure your Payroll department achieves this.
Remember (or imagine) the frustration of manually tracking the employee’s time and attendance details. A nightmare!
Thankfully , the automated systems guarantee accurate recording and payments to workers, for overtime and Public holiday hours worked. But even an excellent automated system needs trained and informed Payroll and HR staff to interpret and understand the South African overtime and shift work legislation.

For this reason, let us briefly consider the primary rules that relate to overtime and shift work.

Here follows the PRIMARY rules for overtime and shift work;

  1. An employee must voluntarily agree to work overtime
  2. An employee must not work more than 3 hours overtime ( on any given day)
  3. An employee may not work more than 10 hours overtime (on any given week)
    Payment for overtime must be ;

    • calculated by using a 1 1/2x rate of pay – minimum- of that employee’s normal working hours rate;
    • or calculated at a normal (1x) rate of pay, with additional 30 minutes off for every hour worked overtime ( this must be granted within 1 month);
    • OR if money is not paid for overtime, 90 minutes time off for every 1 hour worked overtime may be granted.

Once they have worked a number of overtime shifts, they must receive their overtime payment within 1 month of the shifts. However, overtime payment may be delayed for up to 12 months after the work, by PRIOR, MUTUAL agreement between employer and employee.


  1. If Sunday is not a normal working day, then overtime is calculated using the double time (2x) rate of an employee’s normal working hour rate. OR an employee may be given time off during normal working hours,
  2. If a Sunday is a normal working day in their shift roster, then they may be paid a rate of 1 1/2 x their normal hour rate,
  3. If the majority of the shift does NOT fall on a Sunday, no additional payment is required.

Public holidays

  1. If an employee works on a Public holiday, it must be voluntary. An employer may not force them to work a Public holiday shift , unless agreed to by prior arrangement, or by collective bargaining agreement.
  2. If they choose to work on a Public holiday, then payment must be;
    – calculated (at minimum) 2x the normal working hourly rate (and if additional hours are worked on a Public holiday, these are also paid 2x the normal hourly working rate).
  3. Note: all Public holidays are PAID holidays. Even if the employee does not work on the Public holiday, they must be paid their normal hourly rate.
  4. If the employee does work on a Public Holiday, they must be paid their normal daily salary , PLUS their hourly rate of the hours worked.
  5. If the majority of the shift does not fall on a Public holiday, no additional payment is required.

Secondary guidelines for the “Compressed work week” and the averaging of hours worked.

The Compressed work week

An agreement in writing to work up to 12 hours a day ( including a meal break) without paying overtime IF;

  1. you abide by the “not more than 45 hours working rule”;
  2. you do not allow the employee to work more than 10 hours overtime per week;
  3. you do not allow them to work more than 5 days a week.

 Averaging of hours worked

If agreed to by collective bargaining, working hours may be AVERAGED over a 4 month period. This agreement lapses after 12 months.

This means an employee may work an average of 45 hours a week over 4 months ( calculated at 4.33 weeks per month), and an average of 5 hours of overtime per week.

EXAMPLE: an employee may work 50 hours in week 1, then 40 hours in weeks 2 & 3, and 50 hours in week 4. This adds up to 180 hours worked (180 divided by 4) equals 45 hours worked a week, on average. So no overtime is paid.

Are you still unsure of some of the aforementioned guidelines? If so, you are invited to contact Ian, who will be happy to clarify any uncertainties that you may have.

Ian Hurst


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  • My appointment letter says my standard working time is 07:00 to 16:00pm mon to friday and i am noe working shifts…..and theres was no other writen aggrement. And i get night shift allowance.

    They dont pay holidays and sundays worked….they say i am a shift worker… this fair labour practice?

    I would like to hear from you please.

  • Dear Admin

    i have a question here regarding the number of hours one must work if they working both Sunday plus a public Holiday…Basically the company im working for give you a day off if you’re working on a Sunday then oay overtime for holidays. So, I want to know if i’m working on a public holiday, plus a Sunday, how much hours do i need to work?


  • If I work 4 days week days and a Saturday being my fifth day to make 45 hours, can any employer deduct 9 hours to compensate normal hours to make 45 instead of calculating it at 1.5

  • If an employee works 5 mornings a week one of these being a Saturday or Sunday, are these weekend days considered over time if they only work 4 mornings during the normal working week?

  • Our shift workers are required to work 173.36 hours per month based on a 12 hourly roster.

    When an employee then takes leave, should the leave be calculated at 12 hours entitlement? Essentially if it is calculated at 9 hours, the employee would need to work an additional 3 hours in the month per leave day taken to reach their monthly base pay, where there is not always the ability to pick up extra shifts based on the roster being covered for the entire month.

    Please could you give me some guidance here.

  • Good day

    An employee who works from 10:00-22:00 pm Mon-Fri and have 2 hr lunch, they also work Saturday and Sunday 08:00-16:00 respectively, they get paid their basic and standby rate per day. Now my question is seeing to they will be working more than 45hrs in week and the 10 hours overtime, what means could we place to benefit both parties and also how can this be structured in the contract. Please assist

  • I work dayshift but now and then i am required to work night shift for 2 weeks, does my salary stay the same or must the company pay me 1,5 hour rate

  • hi we are working 4 shift (for days in n four days off) and we are not paid night shift allowance & also sunday is not paid, they say we are getting four days off.

  • If an employee is working 2 hours overtime on a Saturday is there a minimum amount of hours that the worKer must be paid for at the 1.5 rate?

  • If I work a weekend which is equal to eight hours on a Saturday and eight hours on a Sunday is it sixteen hours or twenty eight hours ie twelve hours for Saturday and sixteen hours on a Sunday Thanks

    • Hi
      You need to be paid for the hours you work. This depends on if you normally work on a Saturday or Sunday as a normal shift. If this a normal shift you don’t get paid for a Saturday but you do need to be paid 1,5 times for Sunday. If however it is normal then Saturday is paid at 1,5 and Sunday needs to be paid at 2 times your hourly rate.

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