Night shift allowance 2021

Night Shift Allowance
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I received a question from one of my E-mail subscribers recently about his night shift allowance. I answered his question directly via e-mail, however it did get me thinking that maybe I should put together a quick post on the subject of these allowances. Especially because if you are employed in the hospitality or security industries there is a very good chance that you have worked or will work night shifts at some point.

Even if you are not employed in one of these industries any work conducted after 18:00 can reasonably be considered night work. Anyway, here is a brief blog on the topic of the night shift allowance. I will try to answer the most common questions surrounding this shift allowance. 

What does the BCEA say about night shift allowances?

Section 17 of the Basic Conditions of employment act deals with night work.

  1. The act firstly states that an employer may only require or permit an employee to work a night shift by agreement.
  2. Employees who work at night between 18h00 and 06h00 must be compensated for night shift work.
  3. Compensation may be either payment of an allowance or by a reduction of working hours.
  4. Transportation must be available between the employee’s place of residence and the workplace at the start and end of the employee’s shift.

The act also makes it clear that the health of employees working night shifts must be protected. It states the following;

  1. Employees who work regularly after 23:00 and before 06:00 the next day must be informed
    (a) of any health and safety hazards; and
    (b) the right to undergo a medical examination.

Here is what you need to know.

When is the Night shift allowance earned?

The act clearly states that any work conducted between 18:00 and 06:00 is considered night work. It does not matter if you only work a full shift or only 30 minutes during this period.

Night shift work can only be performed by agreement between the employer and employee. Ideally, this should be stipulated in the contract or by written agreement and attached to the contract.

How much should be paid to the employee?

The act states that compensation can either be by way of compensation through a night shift allowance or by a reduction of working hours. The act does not stipulate what the rate of compensation should be. However, the allowance ought to be set out in the employment contract and be agreed upon between the parties.

As stated above, a night shift allowance can also come in the form of reduced working hours. For example, the working hours of the staff member may be reduced from 9 to 7. However, they will be paid for the full 9 hours

However, the employer can also unilaterally stipulate what the allowance will be, across the board for all night shift employees.

It is always advisable that an employer consults with employees before making this decision. However, it is clear that the employer is able to make this decision without consulting staff members. I would hope that employers are fair, but this is not always the case.

Other important points to remember.

The act also makes sure that staff working a night shift are properly cared for.

It is clearly stated that transportation must be available for staff members at the start and end of their night shift. This does not need to be transportation provided by the employer but rather any form of transportation available. Even a lift from their employees’ spouse or a co-worker would be acceptable. If however, no transport is available then the employer would need to make transportation arrangements for the staff member.

The act also mentions that employees need to be informed (in writing) of any health and safety hazards they may be exposed to during the night shift. And that they have the right to undergo a medical exam at the employers’ expense should they feel that they are unable to perform the tasks associated with the shift.

Thanks for checking out this blog. And please let me know if you have any questions in the comments below.

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The information contained on this website is simply aimed at providing readers with guidance on labour law in South Africa. This information has not been provided to meet the individual requirements of a specific individual. Bizcraft will always suggest that legal advice be obtained to address a person’s unique circumstances. It is important to remember that the law is constantly changing and although Bizcraft strives to keep the information up to date and of high quality, it cannot be guaranteed that the information will be updated and/or be without errors or omissions. As a result, Bizcraft will under no circumstances accept liability or be held liable, for any innocent or negligent actions or omissions which may result in any harm or liability flowing from the use of or the inability to use the information provided.


  1. Grace
    March 16, 2022

    What steps to take if I haven’t been paid night shifts allowence, it’s been a year now working without allowence when I ask my manager he usually says the company doesn’t have night shifts allowence but I’m working 19:00 – 07:00 every day, how can a company operates 24/7 without allowence and it’s not even states on my contract that There is no night shifts allowence.

    1. Peter Breedveld
      April 13, 2022

      Hi Grace, I do not believe that the company can refuse to pay a night shift allowance. It is an employee right listed in the Basic Conditions of employment act. I suggest that you get a copy of the BCEA (Although your company should have a copy displayed for employees) and present it to your manager and ask for an explanation as to why your company believes that it is above the basic conditions of employment act. I do not know the exact circumstances of your company and maybe your manager will be able to give you a satisfactory answer. If not you may need to approach the department of labour for assistance.

  2. […] the problem over non-payment arises when a staff member believes they are entitled to overtime or night shift payment, but the employer sees it […]

  3. Vijay Govindasamy
    November 25, 2021

    Employees on site get 15% night shift allowance after the 3 consecutive shifts. If they work overtime (night shift) on the weekend, what percentage of overtime do they qualify for?

  4. Thulani
    November 4, 2021


    We work three rotating shifts, repectively from 06h00am-14h00pm, 14h00pm-22h00pm, 22h00pm-06h00am.

    Employer is not paying us night shift allowance from 18h00pm-22h00pm but only paying from 22h00 pm-06h00am. Can we claim retrospective payment and compliance from now onwards from the employer?

    Hope to hear from you soon.

    Kind Regards,

  5. Chris
    July 3, 2021

    A shift worker who works in a 24 / 7 hour operation receives a shift allowance of x %. Is that same shift worker also entitled to receive a night shift allowance over and above the shift allowance when his shift falls between 18h00 amd 06h00 ?

    1. Peter Breedveld
      July 6, 2021

      Hi Chris, I am not sure I understand your question. Is the shift worker working a 24-hour shift or just a normal shift? It does not really matter if the business operates 24 / 7. If they need staff between 18/6 they should have a night shift allowance in place.

  6. Phogola Surgeon Phaladi
    July 1, 2021

    what happens if i realize after few years working for a company and works night shift and realise that the company has been robbing me when paying nightshift allowance.I realised after the employ a new payroll admin that what she pays is far differs from what they payed before example before they use to pay R790 FOR A WEEK BUT SHE PAYS R3981 FOR WEEK

  7. Cebisa
    September 11, 2020

    Can an employer refuse to pay you night shift allowance if you earn more than R18000,00per month. They say I am above the threshold.

    1. Peter Breedveld
      September 17, 2020

      Hi Cebisa, thank you for your question. Yes, this is correct, the current earnings threshold in South Africa is R205 433.30 /pa. If you are earning R18 000 /pm then you would be just over this threshold and would not be legally able to demand anything in respect of Sections 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17(2), and 18(3) of the BCEA. (Section 17(2) deals with Nightwork allowances)

  8. Garth Goliath
    June 8, 2020

    Can an employer refuse to pay you night shift allowance if you earn more than R18000,00per month.

    1. Malu
      August 5, 2020

      Are casual workers entitled to shift allowance

      1. Peter Breedveld
        September 17, 2020

        Hi Malu, to the very best of my understanding I see no reason why a casual worker would not be entitled to night shift pay.

  9. sam
    May 21, 2020

    can an employer reduce your shift allowance as well as your hours of work, if your normal ours is 42 hours.

    1. Peter Breedveld
      May 25, 2020

      Hi Sam, it would depend on the circumstances unfortunately.

      1. Greg
        May 24, 2022

        Hi, how many hours time off is the employeee supposed to get after working 12 hours nightshift? and is it possible for employer to refuse to pay public holiday for nightshift or ask you to put in leave because they are paying x2 for public holiday and u get time off?

  10. Michael Carse
    May 8, 2020

    Good day. I would like to know what is the percentage of the salary if the employee works night shift.

  11. Miriam Lower
    February 13, 2020

    This blog about A night shift allowance, is a very usefull and
    i will share it!


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