Question: May employees be forced to work overtime? What if they refuse?
Answer: Employees can be required to work overtime if there is an agreement to that effect. A refusal to work agreed overtime amounts to misconduct.
Brief explanation: Section 10 of the BCEA states that an employer may not require or permit an employee to work overtime unless there is an agreement to work overtime. Such agreement does not have to be in writing, but in order to avoid disputes it is advisable to record such agreement in writing. The contract of employment may contain an agreement to work overtime if the need arises. If an employee refuses to work agreed overtime, it amounts to a breach of contract and disciplinary action can be taken against the employee. If employees collectively refuse to work agreed overtime it amounts to industrial action and the relevant provisions pertaining to strike law would apply. (Note: Some Bargaining Council Agreements may contain specific provisions that regulate overtime in a particular industry or sector)
Note: These snippets of information are based on frequently asked questions and will be circulated to subscribers on a regular basis. Labourwise subscribers are invited to submit questions on matters that they believe would be of general interest to employers.
Disclaimer: The material above is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Neither the author nor the publisher accepts responsibility for any loss or damage that may arise from reliance on information contained in this article.