How many hours are you legally allowed to work in a day?

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It’s said that “All work and no play” can make you dull but on a more serious note it can cause employees emotional, mental and physical stress. And workers who work more reasonable hours are likely to be more productive than workers who work extremely long hours. 

It’s important to know how many hours of work in a day you’re legally allowed so as to not get taken advantage of by your employer. The amount of normal time worked is a matter of contractual agreement between employer and employee. Some employers work a 40-hour week, and so on. The statutory limitation of 45 hours per week means that the employee may not work more than 45 hours per week normal time. 

According to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) 
  • The maximum normal working time in a day is nine hours per day excluding a lunch break if the employee works a five-day week.
  • And eight hours per day excluding a lunch break if the employee works more than five days per week.  

Although the BCEA sets a maximum of 45 ordinary hours of work in any week, the act commits to a progressive reduction to 40 hours, but this is far from being realised. Because ordinary hours of work are variable across sectors and numerous provisions apply across sections of the economy.  

There are many workers who work long hours in such instances of workers who earn very low wages. They often have only one means of increasing their incomes offering themselves for more and more work just to earn a living.  Example security guards extend working hours to meet a monthly minimum wage target where long days comprising 12-hour shifts and more are common.  

If you’re a salaried employee whose salary is fair for the work you do and can shut off the flow of requests from the office when you go home, you’re fortunate. As many even some salaried employees aren’t that lucky. 

This can depend on the type of work you do. Because when a salaried person works for a full working day, then at times works all weekend. Or may take work home every night or stays at work until midnight, they don’t get paid for that extra time. 

Just as salaried employees are supposed to get lunch breaks and other break periods but in the go-go business world, breaks are easily overlooked. People work through lunch. They never stop working.

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