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Hours of work

An employee’s hours of work must be agreed to by the employer and employee in a written employment agreement.

Hours of work in the employment agreement may include:

  • the number of hours
  • the start and finish times, or
  • the days of the week the employee will work.

Maximum number of hours

Employment agreements must fix the maximum number of hours to be worked by the employee at no more than 40 per week (not including overtime) unless the employer and employee agree otherwise.

If the maximum number of hours (not including overtime) are less than 40, the employer and employee must try to fix the hours so they are worked on no more than five days of the week.

Changing the hours of work

If an employee or employer wants to change the hours of work, both should agree to this in writing in the employment agreement. 

Hours of work in an employment agreement might include that an employee also do additional work, as reasonably required by an employer. The agreement should include any compensation for this overtime.

Employers must make sure that employees are paid at least the minimum wage for all the time that they work. This rule applies equally to overtime as well as normal hours.

Current minimum wage

What activities are 'work'

There is no strict definition of ‘work’. Work may include any activity where there are:

  • constraints on the freedom of an employee
  • responsibilities placed on an employee, and/or
  • benefits to the employer.

Generally, an activity will be work if it is “an integral part of the principal activity”.

Some examples of work include time spent in:

  • after-hours team meetings
  • opening and closing businesses
  • cleaning and tidying up
  • on-the-job training
  • product familiarisation.

Situations to know about

If you have a workplace issue, you may want to use the Early Resolution Service to resolve it early, quickly and informally.

Early Resolution Service

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Page last revised: 03 February 2022

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