Home The Law and The Gavel Working Hours of Employees

Working Hours of Employees

by Eugenia Enyonam Datsomor
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Working Hours of Employees

Did you know that as an employee, the law protects you by limiting the number of hours you are to work?

The hours of work of an employee as provided in the Labour Act shall be a maximum of eight hours a day or forty hours a week except in cases expressly provided for in the Act (Section 33 of the Labour Act 2003, Act 651).

Despite the provision above, sometimes a worker may work for more than eight hours giving the following precautions. No matter how many hours a day an employee works, the total number of working hours should not exceed forty hours a week or eight hours a day on average when calculated yearly. This goes to say that even if an employee works for nine or eleven hours a day, he should be given some hours off on another day to cover up for it. Thus, when all the hours are added and calculated per year, it should result in an average of eight hours per day or forty hours per week. This however does not apply to task workers or domestic workers in private homes.

Any additional hour worked in contradiction to the above must be considered as overtime and dully paid in cash to the employee as provided for in an undertaking. A worker shall not be compelled to do overtime work except for undertakings or enterprises in which the very nature requires overtime in order to be viable; or which are subject to emergencies that require that workers engage in overtime work in order to prevent or avoid the threat to life and property such as a doctor on duty.

In these exceptional circumstances, the workers may be required to work without additional pay due to the nature of the job. For instance, nurses and doctors on duty may be required to spend extra hours at work treating an emergency which arose from a car accident without getting paid for overtime. The medical practitioner though having the right to close at 8 pm may have to stay till 10 pm in order to ensure the safety of patients who were just rushed in as an emergency due to an accident.

A remedy which salvages the issue of working beyond the stipulated time is the running of shifts. Companies are encouraged to let their employees run shifts in situations where more work is required than that which an employee can do within eight hours a day.

Employees are also to be given rest periods. A worker shall be granted a daily continuous rest of at least twelve hours duration between two consecutive working days. Also, they are entitled to forty-eight consecutive hours of rest every seven days of normal working hours, and the rest period may, for preference begin on Saturday and end on Sunday and shall wherever possible, be granted to all of the workers of the undertaking.

Rest periods do not include public holidays, therefore public holidays are to be treated separately from days of rest periods. In addition to these, every worker is entitled to not less than fifteen working days’ leave with full pay in a calendar year of continuous service. The expression “full pay” means the worker’s normal remuneration, without overtime pay, including the cash equivalent of any remuneration in kind that may be due to the worker.

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