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In Labour News, Members by Pieter4 Comments

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.


  1. What penalties can be imposed on an employer if excessive overtime is worked?

    1. Reply to Estelle: Where there is no previous trasgression, a fine of R100 per employee can be imposed. It goes up with a further R100 per employee for every time the transgression is repeated.

  2. Does this apply to the restaurant industry as well. My son is a kitchen manager he does all the ordering of food etc. He works public holidays too and some sundays but does not get paid for this. Is this Illegal?

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