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Hours of Work

Maximum Working Hours & Overtime Laws in Australia

Standard hours

9 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday, with 30-60 minute lunch break.

Maximum hours

Thirty-eight hours weekly for full-time employees, plus reasonable additional hours (there’s no formal definition of what’s considered reasonable, as it depends on the nature of work, salary and personal circumstances of the employee).

For senior employees, due to the nature of their work and level of salary, it is unusual to be bound by a maximum working week. The full weekly hours are more so relevant for low-income earners and those covered by industrial instruments, such as Modern Awards.

Opt-out option

Employees can only opt out of maximum working hours in very limited circumstances. Employers and employees can only enter into individual flexibility arrangements or make enterprise agreements that vary working hours if the cases provide an overall benefit to the employee.

Overtime compensation

Overtime is defined differently under each Modern Award and enterprise agreement, but it is typically an hourly rate of time and a half for the first 2 hours and double time for each hour after that.

Employees not under a Modern Award (or enterprise agreement) do not have a statutory right to be paid overtime.

Work on Sundays

Where a Modern Award applies, employees working on Sundays are entitled to a higher pay rate. The applicable rate is dictated by the Modern Award or enterprise agreement as appropriate.

Break rights

This section applies to employees employed under an industrial agreement.

Full-time employees working between 7 to 10 hours a day are entitled to 2 paid rest breaks of 10 minutes and one unpaid meal break of 30-60 minutes.

Employees are also entitled to a minimum break of 12 hours between shifts, but it can be agreed between employer and employee to reduce the break to 10-12 hours.

Breaks vary according to the industry and the applicable modern award or enterprise agreement.

Employee Time Tracking Obligations in Australia

Employers are required to keep complete and accurate records of employee work hours. These records must be in English, legible, in a form able to be inspected by a Fair Work Inspector, not be altered unless correcting an error and retained for seven years.

The time tracking record must specify the following:

  • Number of overtime hours worked each day
  • Started and finished working overtime hours (only if overtime compensation applies)
  • The hours casual or irregular part-time employees paid based on time worked, have worked
Government time tracking template

Penalties

Not having the records available for inspection by the Fair Work Inspectors may lead to fines of $1,260 per violation for an individual and $6,300 per violation for a business.

If the Inspector believes the record-keeping failures are serious, wilful or repetitive, they may recommend the matter be taken to court where the fines are significantly more substantial.

This page was last updated on 29th September, 2021. If you have questions about this page, send us an email.