When overtime applies

An employer can request that an employee works reasonable overtime.

What is overtime?

Overtime is when an employee works extra time. It can include work done:

  • beyond their ordinary hours of work
  • outside the agreed number of hours
  • outside the spread of ordinary hours.

The spread of hours is the times of the day ordinary hours can be worked (for example, between 7am - 7pm).

When overtime rates apply

An award, enterprise agreement or other registered agreement will set out when overtime rates apply.

Find information about when overtime applies in your award by selecting from the list below.

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Reasonable overtime

An employer can request that an employee works reasonable overtime. Overtime can be reasonable so long as the following things are taken into account:

  • any risk to health and safety from working the extra hours
  • the employee’s personal situation, including their family responsibilities
  • the workplace's needs
  • if the employee is entitled to receive overtime payments or penalty rates for working the extra hours
  • if they are paid at a higher rate on the understanding that they work some overtime
  • if the employee was given enough notice that they may have to work overtime
  • if the employee has already stated they can’t ever work overtime
  • the usual patterns of work in the industry
  • the employee's role and their level of responsibility 
  • if the overtime hours are in accordance with what an applicable award or agreement says about hours of work being averaged over a specified time
  • any other relevant factors.

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

It is important that health and safety issues, like fatigue, are considered and managed if an employee has to work overtime. For more information on the health and safety implications of an employee working long hours visit the Safe Work Australia external-icon.png website.

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

Tools and resources

Related information

Have a workplace problem?

Problems can happen in any workplace. If you have a workplace problem, we have tools and information to help you resolve it.

Check out our Fixing a workplace problem section for practical information about:

  • working out if there is a problem
  • speaking with your employer or employee about fixing the problem
  • getting help from us if you can't fix the problem.

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