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.

Road Transport Award

Based on what you've told us, it looks like you're covered by the Road Transport and Distribution Award [MA000038].

Maximum number hours

The maximum number of ordinary hours employees can work is:

  • 8 hours per day
  • an average of 35 hours per week for oil distribution workers
  • an average of 38 hours per week for all other workers.

Check clause 22 of the Road Transport Award for information on how to change ordinary hours.

Averaging weekly hours

An employer and their employee can average the employee's hours over more than a week.

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

Options for averaging weekly hours

Oil distribution workers can average their 35 hours per week by working 70 hours over a 2 week period.

The table below shows the options for averaging 38 hours per week for all workers other than oil distribution workers.

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

Example: Averaging 38 hours over 2 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 the 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 Road Transport Award can be worked during:

  • 5.30am - 6.30pm on Monday to Friday
  • 6.30am - 5.30pm on Monday to Friday for oil distribution workers.

This spread of hours doesn't apply to certain delivery workers.

Check clause 22.4 of the Road Transport Award for information on when delivery work can be started between 12.01am - 6am Monday to Friday.

Changing the spread of hours

An employer and the majority of employees concerned in a depot, yard or garage can agree to change the spread of hours by:

  • adding up to one hour to one or both ends of the spread (such as 4.30am to 7.30pm Monday to Friday), or
  • shifting the spread of hours up or down by up to an hour (such as 4.30am to 5.30pm or 6.30am to 7.30pm Monday to Friday), or
  • changing the spread of hours to include a Saturday and/or Sunday.

An individual employee can also agree to have ordinary hours on a Saturday or Sunday or, in some circumstances, to alter the spread of hours by up to one hour at either end of the spread.

Oil distribution workers aren’t able to change their spread of hours. 

Minimum hours

Each time a part-time or casual employee works, they have to be given at least 4 hours of work. If they aren’t given these hours, they still have to be paid a minimum of 4 hours.

The minimum daily hours for a full-time employee will depend on their rostered hours.

Check the Road Transport Award for different minimum daily hours on Saturday, Sunday and public holidays.

Arranging hours of work

There are different arrangements that can be used to organise an employee’s weekly hours. These include:

  • working the same hours each day (eg. 7 hours and 36 minutes each day, 5 days per week)
  • accumulating a rostered day off
  • subject to agreement, for oil distribution workers engaged in rural operations, working 35 hours over 3 days in a row, Monday to Saturday.

Check clause 22 and 23 of the Road Transport Award for full information on arranging hours of work.

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

Source reference: Road Transport and Distribution Award [MA000038] clauses 8 and 13-14 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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