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Working Hours and Overtime Regulations

Understand the laws governing work hours and overtime in Botswana

Standard working hours

In Botswana, the standard working hours are governed by the Employment Act of 2014. The maximum allowable workweek is 48 hours, applicable to most employment situations.

The standard workday cannot exceed 9 hours for a five-day workweek. Alternatively, the workday can be 8 hours for a six-day workweek.

There are exceptions for certain professions. For instance, security guards employed solely to watch over property are permitted to work a maximum of 10 hours per day and 60 hours per week.


The Employment Act of 2014 in Botswana establishes the regulations and minimum compensation for overtime work. An employee is entitled to overtime pay for any hours worked that exceed the standard working hours as defined by the Act.

There's a restriction on the total amount of overtime work allowed per week. Employees cannot be required or permitted to work overtime for more than 14 hours in any given week. However, the Minister of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development may issue exceptions through a published order. This allows exceeding the 14-hour limit for specific industries or undertakings.

The Act mandates a minimum increase in pay for overtime work. Overtime work must be compensated at a rate of at least 1.5 times the employee's normal hourly rate. Work performed on a rest day or public holiday attracts a higher compensation rate, a minimum of double the normal wage rate.

In some cases, the employee may be offered a day or days off in lieu of double pay for work done on a rest day or public holiday. This option requires agreement between the employer and employee.

Managerial positions, administrative staff, and executives are generally excluded from claiming overtime pay because the nature of their roles often requires working outside standard hours.

Rest periods and breaks

In Botswana, the Employment Act of 2014 (Act No. 1 of 2014) ensures that workers are entitled to rest periods and breaks during their workday.

Mandatory Rest Breaks

Employees are not allowed to work for more than five consecutive hours without a rest break. This is a legal requirement that employers must adhere to.

Minimum Break Duration

The legally mandated rest break must be at least 30 minutes long. This is the minimum duration, and employers are free to provide longer breaks if they choose.

Employer Responsibilities

Employers are responsible for ensuring that their employees receive their legally mandated rest breaks. This means that they must schedule breaks and ensure that employees are able to take them.

Break Time Considerations

The Act does not specify how the break should be structured. However, it is generally understood that the break time should be free from work duties and allow for relaxation and refreshment. Employers and employees may reach agreements on structuring breaks, such as splitting the 30 minutes into two shorter breaks. However, these agreements should not disadvantage the employee's right to a meaningful rest period.

Additional Rest Periods

Pregnant and nursing mothers are entitled to additional rest periods. These are intended for breastfeeding and prenatal care, as per the Act. This ensures that these employees are able to take care of their health and the health of their child while continuing to work.

Night shift and weekend regulations

Night work is defined by the Act as part of the standard workweek, which is 48 hours. The maximum daily workday is 9 hours for a five-day week or 8 hours for a six-day week. If night work hours push the total workload beyond 48 hours a week, overtime rates apply. Overtime work must be compensated at a rate of at least 1.5 times the employee's normal hourly rate.

The Act doesn't explicitly prohibit weekend work. However, it guarantees employees the right to one uninterrupted rest period of at least 36 hours per week. This essentially restricts most work schedules to a maximum of two days on weekends. If weekend work is required, employees are entitled to standard overtime rates (minimum 1.5 times the normal rate) for the hours worked. In some instances, employees may be offered a day off in lieu of overtime pay, but this requires mutual agreement between employer and employee.

Collective bargaining agreements between employers and worker unions may establish different regulations specific to night shifts and weekend work. These agreements might include shift allowances or premium pay for night or weekend hours. The Ministry of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development may issue regulations pertaining to night or weekend work for specific industries. It's advisable to consult the Ministry or relevant employer organizations for industry-specific guidelines.

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