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.
- The act firstly states that an employer may only require or permit an employee to work a night shift by agreement.
- Employees who work at night between 18h00 and 06h00 must be compensated for night shift work.
- Compensation may be either payment of an allowance or by a reduction of working hours.
- 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;
- 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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