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Things to consider before asking an employee to work overtime extra hours


As an employer there are a number of issues to consider before asking an employee to work overtime.

As an employer, you can request that your employee work reasonable overtime hours.  Overtime hours are extra hours worked by an employee / staff member.

An employee can refuse overtime, if the overtime request is unreasonable.

When considering whether the overtime request would result in the employee working unreasonable hours, an employer should have regard to:

  • The employee’s private and family responsibilities;
  • Health and safety of the employee;
  • The genuine needs of the workplace;
  • Whether enough notice was given;
  • The arrangements in place between the employer and employee – ie. the employee has previously communicated that they are / are not available to work overtime;
  • Any other relevant matters or circumstances.

The Award generally sets out a maximum number of hours that can be worked on any given day, or week.

  • If the maximum number of hours that can be worked on any day is 10, overtime rates will apply for the hours worked above 10.
  • If the maximum number of hours that can be worked for a week is 38, then overtime will be payable for hours worked over that amount.

These are general examples only, but each Award or Registered Agreement will contain overtime details which will differ based on position and industry.

To find out when additional penalty rates will be payable for overtime hours worked by your employee, you need to check your employees Award or Registered Agreement.  Fair Work have a helpful tool to do that here.

The overtime penalty rate is approximately time and a half, so an additional 50% of the employee’s standard rate.  This can increase to double time after a certain number of hours are worked.  But again, there is no standard rate.  The rate will differ based on the position and industry of your employee.

Fair Work has useful tools for helping you to calculate overtime rates, here.

More information?

Employment Agreements

The 10 National Employment Standards that apply to your employees

My Growing Business Employment Bundle