Time Is Money – And The Labour Law Is Clear On That

Time Is Money – And The Labour Law Is Clear On That

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The Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) sets the fundamental conditions of service for all employment situations, ranging from the domestic to, with variations, the industrial.

When it comes to hours worked per week in business, particularly overtime, the BCEA is precise – the maximum normal working time allowed is 45 hours per week, any overtime is voluntary and may only be worked in agreement between employer and employee.

Nicol Myburgh, Head of HR Business Unit at CRS Technologies, an HR and HCM specialist services provider, offers a broad perspective on the matter and the company’s view, which, as he explains, is only a guideline.

Myburgh says there are terms and conditions that have to be taken into consideration – including the fact that the above regulation excludes lunch breaks. “Lunch breaks are, by law, not defined as working time and will therefore be unpaid,” and does not mean the employee must work 45 hours per week normal time.

Related: Master The Ins And Outs Of South Africa’s Labour Laws

“The normal working hours are determined by mutual agreement between employee and employer, in this aspect the act only provides the maximum limit of 45 hours, and does not mean the employee MUST work 45 hours per week normal time. The statutory limitation of 45 hours per week means that the employee may not work more than 45 hours per week normal time,” says Myburgh.


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Labour legislation is also clear on overtime, defined as time worked in excess of the normal working hours.  “The maximum permissible overtime is three hours per day or 10 hours per week. The employee must be paid at one and a half times his/her normal wage rate except for Sunday work and work on public holidays, which must be paid at twice the normal wage rate. The employees aren’t necessarily paid for overtime, instead by mutual agreement, they can be granted time off in lieu of payment calculated by the same formula mentioned above,” Myburgh continues. 

By mutual agreement

However, this segment of the law is only applicable to employees earning below the earnings threshold, as determined by the Minister, and is currently R205 433,30.

As CRS Technologies executives explain, overtime payment or time off in lieu thereof for employees earning above this threshold is not compulsory, but rather a mutual agreement between employer and employee.

Employees earning above the threshold for overtime who are not compensated by employers have the right to refuse to participate in overtime work.

While it is true that each industry has its own variations and is governed by specific dynamics, legislation regulating overtime is applicable irrespective.

“No employee may work more than 45 hours per week normal time and the no employee may work more than 10 hours per week overtime. However, while the BCEA sets the fundamental minimum rules, there are legislated variations based on sectoral or industry operational requirements.  A sectoral determination, a Bargaining Council Main agreement or a union agreement, etc. may bring about variations on the conditions mentioned above since these documents are viewed as extensions of the act.  These are known as delegated legislation,” says Myburgh.

Related: What The Law Says About Employee Leave And Absence

CRS Technologies refers to the security industry as an example.The company explains that Sectoral Determination 6: Private Security Sector, regulates among other conditions the maximum normal working hours to 48 hours per week for a security officer.

“…And the Metal and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council regulates the conditions for employees operating in the industry, among other conditions the ordinary hours of work shall not exceed 40 in any one week for employees on day shift and/or night shift or employees working on the two and/or three-shift system,” Myburgh explains.

A further example is the retail industry, where overtime provisions allow for extended shopping hours.

CRS HR And Payroll Solutions
CRS HR & Payroll Solutions is a provider of services and solutions to the Human Resources and Payroll markets in Africa in general and South Africa in particular. Established in 1985, the company has served as the premier provider of HR systems, solutions and remuneration products to business across expanding market segments. Our product portfolio encompasses everything the decision maker in business requires to support the rollout of an effective HR and payroll strategy. The company’s foremost reputation as a reliable service provider and trader in rapidly expanding market segments and to blue chip companies is underpinned by its affiliation and partnership with a number of respected, industry-regulatory bodies. CRS is a signatory to the Information Technology Association (ITA) and a member of the Payroll Authors Group of South Africa. It is also a member of the South African Payroll Association, South African Rewards Association and the Institute of People Management. Its expertise and business acumen within these mission-critical aspects of business management have ensured that it remains an ultra-competitive, secure and unrivalled market performer. CRS provides a service to numerous countries throughout Africa, including Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Namibia, Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho and Mozambique. The continent is viewed as being a thriving, high-growth market and one that the company will continue to add value to.

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