There are some situations where the employer can require the employee to work extra hours. These are:
- If an emergency occurs, or an actual or threatened accident occurs, or urgent work must be done to machinery or plant, and additional hours must be worked in order to avoid serious interference with the ordinary working of the business; or
- If the employee is engaged in a job that must be carried out continuously by using shift work.
The limit in these situations is that the working hours do not exceed, on average, 56 hours per week.
If your employees are likely to have hours that occasionally require them to work variable hours it is good practice to include this in your employment contracts.
Also, an employer can require an employee to work longer hours to make up for hours that have been lost due to holidays, accidents, power cuts, damage to plant et cetera. There are limits on this though:
- the employer shall as soon as practicable notify a labour officer of any increase of hours of work due to making up for lost hours; and
- hours of work which have been lost shall not be made up on more than 30 days in the year; and
- hours shall be made up within a reasonable time; and
- the increase in hours of work in the day shall not exceed 1 hour; and
- the hours of work in the day shall not exceed 10; and
Grey area: the provisions of the law contradict. Normal hours of work are 8 hours per day. Limiting to a 1 hour increase would mean only 9 hours per day could be worked. To be safe an employer should seek voluntary agreement of employees for any more than 9 hours work per day.
There are limits on requiring employees to work on Sundays and public holidays.
If the employer requires the employee to work more than the normal maximum hours of work then overtime must be paid.