How many hours can your employees work in a week?

 Monday, November 14, 2016


How many hours can your employees work in a week?

The National Employment Standards (NES) provide that the maximum weekly hours which a full time employee can be required to work is 38 hours per week, plus reasonable additional hours as required by the employer. If an employee is working reasonable additional hours, they are required to paid for these hours at the rate prescribed in the award, or pursuant to a written agreement between the employee and employer.

When determining whether additional hours are reasonable, the NES set outs a number of factors are to be considered.

The NES also provides the ability for an employer and an employee to enter into a written agreement regarding the averaging of hours over a maximum period of 26 weeks.

The Manufacturing and Associated Industries and Occupations Award 2010(Award) contains examples of the type of provisions relating to hours worked that are usually contained in modern awards.

A Manufacturing Industry Example

Ordinary hours: The ordinary hours for day workers (non-shift workers) are 38 hours per week but not exceeding 152 hours in 28 days. Ordinary hours may be worked Monday to Friday inclusive, although by an individual agreement the ordinary hours may include Saturday or Sunday. Where agreement is reached, the rate between midnight Friday and midnight on Saturday is time and a half and the rate between midnight on Saturday and midnight on Sunday is double time.

Overtime: If a day work works hours in addition to their ordinary hours, the overtime rate is time and a half for the first three hours and double time thereafter until the completion of the overtime work.

Work on public holiday: A day worker required to work on a public holiday must be paid for a minimum of three hours work at double time and a half.

Flexibility arrangement of ordinary working hours: The Award allows flexibility of ordinary working hours by agreement between an employer and an individual employee. The matters on which agreement may be reached include:
  • the duration and how the hours are to be averaged within a work cycle;
  • rosters that specify starting and finishing times of working hours;
  • a period of notice of a rostered day off (RDO) which is less than four weeks;
  • substitution or accumulation of RDOs and flexibility in arrangements around taking RDOs;
  • any arrangements of ordinary hours that exceed eight hours in any day.

Further, by agreement between an employer and the majority of employees, 12 hour days or shifts may be introduced subject to various factors such as ensuring proper health monitoring procedures being introduced and adequate breaks are provided to employees.