Hours of work

Ordinary hours are an employee's normal and regular hours of work, which do not attract overtime rates.

Understanding ordinary hours

Awards, enterprise agreements and other registered agreements set out any:

  • maximum ordinary hours in a day, week, fortnight or month,
  • minimum ordinary hours in a day,
  • times of the day ordinary hours can be worked (for example, between 7am - 7pm).

The ordinary hours can be different for full-time, part-time and casual employees.

Spread of hours

The time of the day ordinary hours are worked is called the spread of hours (for example, between 7am - 7pm). Time worked outside the spread of ordinary hours can attract overtime rates.

Find more information about maximum and minimum hours of work and the spread of hours in your award by selecting from the list below.

Retail Award

Based on what you've told us, it looks like you're covered by the General Retail Industry Award [MA000004].

Find information below about:

  • maximum number of hours per day
  • averaging weekly hours
  • spread of hours
  • minimum hours per shift
  • arranging hours of work.

Maximum number of hours per day

The maximum number of ordinary hours employees can work is 9 hours per day (with 1 day of up to 11 hours, per week).

Averaging weekly hours

An employer can roster a full-time employee to average the employee's hours over more than a week.

This means the employee may work more than 38 hours one week, but less in another.

Options for averaging weekly hours

The table below shows the options for averaging 38 hours per week.

Hours worked Averaged over…
76 hours 2 weeks in a row
114 hours 3 weeks in a row
152 hours 4 weeks in a row

An employer and employee can agree to average the hours over a longer period than 4 weeks.


Cindy works full-time and averages her 38 hours a week by working 76 hours over 2 weeks.

She works 42 hours the first week and 34 hours second week. 42 + 34 = 76 hours.

This means that over 2 weeks she has worked an average of 38 hours per week.

Spread of hours

The ordinary hours in the Retail Award can be worked during the following times:

Type of business Monday - Friday  Saturday   Sunday
Newsagency 5am - 9pm
5am - 6pm
5am - 6pm
Video hire shop
7am - 12 midnight
7am - 12 midnight 9am - 12 midnight
Businesses trading after 9pm Monday to Friday or after 6pm on weekends (for those late night trading days only) 
7am - 11pm
7am - 11pm
9am - 11pm
All other retail businesses 7am - 9pm
7am - 6pm
9am - 6pm

Minimum hours per shift

Each time a part-time or casual employee works, they have to be paid for at least 3 hours of work in a row.

If they aren't given these hours, they still have to be paid a minimum of 3 hours. 

Minimum daily hours for casual high school students

A casual employee can work a minimum of 1 hour and 30 minutes if they:

  • are a full-time high school student, and
  • work between 3.00pm and 6.30pm on a day they attend school, and
  • agree (and their parent / guardian agrees) for them to work less than 3 hours, and
  • can't work for a longer period because of the:
    • operational requirements of the employer, or
    • unavailability of the employee.

Arranging hours of work

There are different arrangements that can be used to organise an employee’s 38 ordinary hours per week. These include:

  • shorter days, that is 7.6 hours
  • a shorter day or days each week
  • a shorter fortnight
  • taking a fixed day off every 4 weeks
  • taking a rotating day off every 4 weeks
  • accumulating a rostered day off every 4 weeks.

Each business will decide with the employees which arrangement best suits the business. Different arrangements may be used in the same business.

An employee can work ordinary hours on a maximum of 5 days a week. If ordinary hours are worked on 6 days, the next week ordinary hours can be worked on a maximum of 4 days.

To find out more about who this award applies to, go to the Retail Award summary.

Source reference: General Retail Industry Award [MA000004] clauses 10.9, 11.4, 11.5, 15, and 27.2 external-icon.png

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Maximum weekly hours

An employee can work a maximum of 38 hours in a week unless an employer asks them to work reasonable extra hours. See our Maximum weekly hours fact sheet.

Source reference: Fair Work Act 2009 s.62 external-icon.png

Tools and resources

Related information

Help for small business

Think a mistake might have been made?

Mistakes can happen. The best way to fix them usually starts with talking.

Check out our Fixing a workplace problem section for practical advice on:

  • figuring out if a mistake has been made
  • talking to your employer or employee about fixing it
  • getting help from us if you can't resolve it.

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