The Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) says you're not allowed to ask an employee to work more than ten hours' overtime a week.
But, you can negotiate an agreement with your employee or the representative union to work longer overtime hours. Just remember that, even then, you can't require or allow your employee to work more than 12 hours in total on any one day.
Caution: If you're covered by a bargaining council agreement or a sectoral determination, check how much overtime's permitted for your industry or sector as the provisions could be different from those of the BCEA.
Now let's get to the common questions relating to overtime.
Here are the answers to the three most frequently asked questions about overtime
#1: What happens when an employee fails to work overtime?
If an employee's agreed to work overtime and then doesn't turn up for work, he's absent without permission and you can discipline him.
#2: Why is overtime limited to ten hours per week?
The law recognises that employees need sufficient rest. If employees at any level work long hours, they'll make mistakes and have accidents.
#3: Must I provide transport and food for my employees if they work overtime?
Some bargaining council agreements provide for food when employees are working overtime and night-shifts. This generally takes the form of an allowance for the inconvenience of working night-shift; but it isn't required by the BCEA.
That said; as in all labour law, the question is 'what's fair'.
If, for example, your employee wasn't planning to work overtime and you ask him to do so, chances are, he doesn't have food and may have difficulty getting food in his work area.
And if you want your employee to catch public transport late at night, it may not be possible for him to do so.
In both these cases, it's fair to provide assistance where necessary.
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