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New overtime threshold in SA labour law

by on 08/07/11 at 11:24 am

Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant has announced a change to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) – one of South Africa’s most important pieces of labour legislation. The change raises the threshold under which employees should be compensated for overtime work and work on public holidays and Sundays. The change came into force from 1 July 2011 and all employers should be aware of the impact the law may have on their business.

What is the BCEA?

As its name implies, the BCEA defines the basic conditions that all employees in South Africa are entitled to work in. It covers matters like leave, work and rest times, termination of employment and remuneration. It applies to all workers in the country, except where certain specific provisions exclude senior managers and those who earn above a certain pay threshold.

How does overtime work?

An employer may not ask or require an employee to work overtime unless the employee has specifically agreed to do so, and this agreement lapses after one year. If there is an agreement, the employee may not work more than three’ hours overtime a day or 10 hours’ overtime a week. The employee must be compensated for the time worked either with extra pay (one and a half times the usual wage), time off (90 minutes paid time off per hour worked) or a combination (one hour’s pay and 30 minutes time off). The compensation clause does not apply to employees above a certain pay threshold.

What is the overtime threshold?

The labour minister determines the threshold above which employees are not compensated for working overtime. Anybody who earns below this threshold is entitled to be remunerated for any overtime worked. Earnings are calculated as the employee’s annual salary before deductions, excluding any employer contributions. Other payment, like a travel allowance, is not included in this calculation.

How does this change affect me?

The new threshold raises the earning total of employees who are entitled to overtime pay. The previous threshold was R149,736 per year (R12,478 per month). It has now been increased to R172,000 per year (R14,333 per month). For business owners and HR managers, this potentially means that more employees are entitled to payment for their overtime work. Employees should also calculate how much they earn and check the provisions of their contracts of employment to see whether they benefit from this provision.

Anna Malczyk is a member of the academic department of GetSmarter, a specialist online training firm. GetSmarter works together with University of Cape Town to present short courses in small business management, project management, internet marketing, financial management and more. View more articles by Anna Malczyk.

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20 Responses to “New overtime threshold in SA labour law”

  1. Bandi

    Jul 27th, 2011

    Hi does this new overtime threshold law implies, applies or stands even when your contract does not stipulate about who should get overtime and who shouldn’t. Particularly regarding the salary scale??

  2. Tonya

    Oct 12th, 2011

    If you are above threshold does it mean you a
    can be forced to work unlimited overtime, unpaid?

  3. Mel

    Aug 30th, 2012

    I am a manager and chef at a small guest house. I work long hours and get 2 weekends a month of from friday 8pm-monday 5am. I work more than 9 hours a day, and do not get overtime or 1.5 on weekends. My boss is telling me managers don’t get overtime and I earn R4500 a month. Can you please assist me.

  4. A Spies

    Nov 12th, 2012

    Does over the threshold mean that if you work overtime on a Sunday other employees get time x 2 does it mean that you only get paid/ time off hour per hour…… That does not sound right to me we are already only paid flat rate now we lose hours as well according to my company

  5. dinesh

    Jan 28th, 2013

    i earn R18000 a month before any deductions. Do i qualify to get paid overtime? In my contract it says that i will be paid accordingly for overtime and with management concent. but now they say that i do not qualify.

  6. dana

    Mar 11th, 2013

    If you are above threshold does it mean you a
    can be forced to work unlimited overtime, unpaid?
    I worked overtime and now the company said they dont need to pay or give me time off for the time i worked , what can I do ?

  7. Steven Freislich

    May 17th, 2013

    Please can you send me the latest version of the overtime threshold in south africa. I have been working for a company for more that 2 years and have worked a lot of overtime and weekends and have not been payed for it. Will be very thankfull.

  8. Carol-Ann

    May 20th, 2013

    If someone is working overtime, above than their normal hours working… Can they be paid normal rates instead of overtime rates for travelling for business with company vehicle???? PLEASE HELP

    Please email me a reply, ANYONE.


  9. Frank

    May 22nd, 2013

    I need to know if my salary is above the threshold, can they force me to work overtime without payment and how many hours can the force me to work per month?

  10. Frank

    May 22nd, 2013

    Can you please tell me. May I ask payment for overtime if my salary is above the threshold?

  11. zaid

    Jun 10th, 2013

    Can you tell me if you work overtime is it a requirement of the company to provide you with food. My working hours starts at 11:00am to 7:30pm. Is the company alowed to force you to work overtime.

  12. Andy

    Aug 7th, 2013

    How far back in years, can an employee claim for unpaid overtime in SA ?

  13. J.P

    Sep 2nd, 2013

    I’m a fitter and turner. Can I claim for overtime if I get more than the threshold

  14. Anton

    Sep 4th, 2013

    Hi, can any one help me please. The company I worked for refuses to pay my overtime that I worked because I made my own time sheet that I submitted to my superior because I did not have a clock card and now the branch manager says wants proof that my superior authorised my time sheet.

  15. Adriaan

    Oct 2nd, 2013

    I am a Security Office working shifts. I work 2 to 3 Sunday’s per month as per duty roster. My employee refuse to pay me overtime. I would like to know whether I am entitled to overtime according to the Law on Basic employement conditions. My Basic Salary is R3300 p/m and om also not paid a Night Shift allowance.

  16. mike

    Nov 14th, 2013


    i work for an emergency service and i am requred to go out at night for certain incidents. i earn above the threshold and get a standby allowance. i understand the threshold limit, but now my company says that we are not allowed to work overtime at all and my view is that we can work. Can i work? and do they have to pay overtime and at what rate if any?

  17. Johan

    Dec 8th, 2013

    If you are above the threshold can you be forced to work overtime in the construction trade and not be compensated I am a diesel mechanic by trade

  18. PETER

    Mar 11th, 2014

    i work for an engineering company as an operator.we aren’t getting overtime but we work 12 to 13 hours everyday.Foreigners without permits are supervisors there.Our rights are being violated really here because the foreigners doesnt work according to our labour law.PLEASE INTERVENE FOR OUR RIGHTS AS WORKERS

  19. Kayla

    May 6th, 2014

    I work as a chef in a new resturant and we arnt getting paid over time. or even double time. the bosses and owners are refusing to pay. Please Help

  20. Fani

    Jun 30th, 2014

    Hi I work for a company as a lab analyst, I work overtime all the time and get paid for it but this time I took paid leave for two days, but the company exchanged my leave days for my over time is that allowed. Because overtime it 1.5 and 2 times greater than normal hours

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