This short article seeks to explain what overtime is, what the law in Ghana states and why you should be informed on it as an employee.

Overtime is defined by Black's Law Dictionary (8th Edition) as hours that are worked in addition to an employee's usual working hours (depending on company rules, contracts, union agreements and the law).

In Ghana, overtime work is regulated by the Labour Act 2003 ("Act 651"). It is simply the additional hours that a worker works aside the fixed hours of work agreed upon by the worker and the employer.

An example would be where the agreed upon working hours are 8 am to 5pm from Monday to Friday yet the worker closes at 9 pm each day. The extra 4 hours worked would be considered as overtime work.

It is necessary to note that the hours of work of a worker shall be a maximum of eight hours a day or forty hours a week except in cases expressly provided for in Act 651.

Furthermore, if the employer has not clearly established the rates and fees that workers will be paid for overtime work, then that worker cannot be forced to do overtime work.

In Ghana, there is no specified rate of pay for overtime work under Act 651. Usually, the amount paid for working extra hours depends on the rules set by the employer or the company the employee works for. If the worker has joined a trade union, they can negotiate an agreement with the employer that states how much extra pay they receive for working overtime.

A worker must not be forced to do overtime work unless:

  1. their business or enterprise requires overtime in order to be viable; or
  2. there is an emergency that requires the worker to engage in overtime work.

However, in exceptional circumstances including an accident which threatens human lives or where the survival of the business is at stake, overtime work is not required to be paid for.

If an employer fails to pay a worker for his/her overtime work, the worker has the right to make a complaint to the National Labour Commission (NLC). The NLC has the authority to issue orders that require the employer to follow the rules stated in the Labour Act and ensure that the worker receives their rightful overtime pa

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.