Spotlight On: Maximum Weekly Hours of Work

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A maximum of 38 hours per week, plus reasonable additional hours is one of the 10 National Employment Standards of the Fair Work Act 2009.

But what is ‘reasonable additional hours’?

Well, this will depend on individual cases. There are many different items to consider, including usual patterns of work in the industry, the nature of the employee’s role and responsibility, risks to health and safety, the employee’s personal circumstances, and the notice given by the employer to work the additional hours.

Applicable modern awards or enterprise agreements may give opportunity to average the hours worked per week over 2, 3 or 4 weeks. It is also possible for employers to average hours of work for employees who are award or agreement free, to be agreed in writing with the employee. However, employers should keep in mind that it is unlawful for an employer to try to force an employee to make or not make an averaging arrangement.

The first course of action is to discuss what the business needs and what the employee needs. You may need to consider alternative ways of covering the business, together with the needs of other team members.

If you can’t reach a resolution, or need more information on the maximum weekly hours, please contact My HR Adviser.