Overtime and shift work

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 to be trained and informed Payroll and HR staff to interpret and understand the South African overtime and shift work legislation.

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 ;

  1. calculated by using a 1 1/2x rate of pay – minimum- of that employee’s normal working hours rate
  2. 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)
  3. 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.

Sunday Overtimes policies and regulations explained: A comprehensive guide on how to calculate and manage Sunday work hours.

  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 Holiday Pay Policies: A clear understanding of employee compensation for holiday work hours.

  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.

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

  • You abide by the “not more than 45 hours working rule”
  • You do not allow the employee to work more than 10 hours overtime per week
  • You do not allow them to work more than 5 days a week

Averaging of Working Hours: Explaining the 4-month agreement for work hours and overtime compensation.

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 welcome to contact our helpdesk, who will be happy to clarify any uncertainties that you may have.