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Hours of work

The National Employment Standards set the maximum hours an employee can work in a week.  Awards and agreements can also have rules about minimum and maximum daily hours and breaks.


Maximum Weekly Hours

An employer can’t ask or tell an employee to work more than the following hours of work in a week, unless the extra hours are reasonable:-

  • For full time employees – 38 hours
  • For other employees – the employees ordinary weekly hours (up to 38 hours) or 38 hours

Reasonable extra hours

To tell whether extra hours are ‘reasonable’ employers need to consider:-

  • Any risk to the employee’s health and safety
  • The employee’s personal situation.
  • The needs of the workplace.
  • If the employee gets overtime, penalty rates or other compensation
  • If the employee gets a level of remuneration that shows they are expected to work extra hours.
  • How much notice they give the employee
  • Any notice the employee gives that they intend to refuse to work the extra hours
  • The usual patterns of work in the industry
  • The employee’s role and responsibilities
  • If the extra hours fit with agreed averaging arrangements
  • Any other relevant matter

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