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Working Hours and Overtime Regulations

Understand the laws governing work hours and overtime in Benin

Standard working hours

The legal framework for standard working hours in Benin is established by the Labor Code of 1998 (Law No. 98-004).

The standard workweek in Benin is set at 40 hours for most employees, as per Article 142 of the Labor Code. This applies to companies and parastatal sectors governed by the Labor Code.

While the Labor Code specifies a 40-hour workweek, it doesn't explicitly define standard daily working hours. However, a common practice observed in Benin is to divide the weekly hours into two work sessions:

  • Morning: 8:00 AM to 12:30 PM
  • Afternoon: 3:30 PM to 7:00 PM

This schedule, totaling 7.5 hours per day across weekdays and a half day on Saturdays, reflects typical working hours in the country.

The Labor Code acknowledges an exception for workers in the agricultural sector. For them, the yearly standard is set at 2400 hours of work, translating to an average of 46 hours per week, as per Article 143 of the Labor Code.


In Benin, the Labor Code of 1998 governs the rules and compensation for overtime work. Overtime work is only permissible in specific circumstances as defined by the Labor Code. These situations include completing urgent tasks necessary for the company's operation, preventing accidents or repairing damage to company equipment or facilities, and completing preparatory or complementary work outside of regular working hours.

The decision to implement overtime should ideally involve an agreement between the employer and the employee. This ensures the employee's consent and avoids potential exploitation.

There's a cap on the total amount of overtime an employee can work. The maximum overtime allowed per year is set at 240 hours.

Overtime work is not simply an extension of regular hours; it's compensated at a higher rate to incentivize employees and acknowledge the additional effort. The Labor Code dictates the minimum overtime pay rates:

  • For overtime hours worked between the 41st and 48th hour in a week, the employee is entitled to 112% of their normal hourly wage.
  • Overtime exceeding the 48th hour per week attracts a higher premium of 135% of the regular hourly rate.

Overtime work performed during night hours is subject to a different pay structure:

  • Overtime during weekdays attracts a 50% premium on top of the regular hourly wage.
  • Overtime on Sundays and public holidays comes with a 100% premium on top of the regular hourly rate.

These regulations ensure that overtime work is adequately compensated for the additional time and potential disruption to personal life.

Rest periods and breaks

In Benin, the Labor Code (Law No. 98-004) ensures that employees are entitled to rest periods and breaks. This is aimed at promoting well-being and preventing fatigue.

Employees who work for more than 5.5 hours a day are entitled to rest breaks. These breaks must be scheduled within a specific timeframe, which is two hours after the start of the workday and two hours before the end of the workday. This arrangement ensures that breaks are evenly distributed throughout the work session and do not merely extend the workday.

The minimum duration of these rest breaks varies depending on the total daily working hours. For up to 8 hours of work, workers receive at least one break of 30 minutes. For 8 to 10 hours of work, the minimum break duration increases to 45 minutes.

The Labor Code also allows employers some flexibility. They can offer multiple shorter breaks throughout the day as long as the total allocated break time meets the minimum requirements.

In addition to daily breaks, employees are entitled to a weekly rest period of at least 24 consecutive hours. This break should ideally fall on Sundays, but exceptions exist. When Sunday work is necessary due to the nature of the business or an emergency, employers can provide a rest day on another day of the week.

The Labor Code offers slightly different regulations for domestic workers regarding the weekly rest period. They are entitled to 48 hours of weekly rest, with at least 24 consecutive hours typically falling on Sundays. The remaining 24 hours can be split into two half-days or provided on another mutually agreed-upon day.

These rest periods and breaks are crucial for worker health and productivity. The legal framework ensures employees have sufficient time to recover and return to work refreshed.

Night shift and weekend regulations

In Benin, the labor code provides a structure for night and weekend work, with the aim of safeguarding employee well-being while ensuring the continuity of businesses.

Night work is defined as any work carried out during a period of at least seven consecutive hours, including the interval between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. This type of work is generally prohibited for pregnant women and women who have recently given birth. Minors under 18 years old can only perform night work under exceptional circumstances and with special authorization.

Weekend work is generally prohibited on Sundays. However, exceptions exist for certain sectors and activities deemed essential, such as security services, hospitals and other healthcare facilities, hotels and restaurants, and media outlets. Employees in these sectors may be required to work on weekends, but they must be compensated accordingly.

Employees who work nights or weekends are entitled to additional compensation on top of their regular salary. The specific amount of this compensation can be negotiated through collective bargaining agreements or determined by the employer, but it must be at least 20% higher than the regular salary rate for night work. For weekend work, a substitute rest day or additional paid leave is provided.

The Labor Code underscores the importance of consultation between employers and employee representatives before implementing night or weekend work schedules. This consultation process allows for a discussion of working conditions, compensation, and potential health and safety concerns related to night and weekend work.

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