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Working Hours and Overtime Regulations

Understand the laws governing work hours and overtime in Congo

Standard working hours

In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), legal limitations on working hours are established to protect employee well-being. The Congolese labor code dictates a maximum workweek of 45 hours and a maximum workday of 9 hours. This applies to every public or private establishment, even those directed to education or charity. There are no legal variations in these limits based on gender or job type. However, it's important to note that while the DRC has established these legal limitations, enforcement can be inconsistent. Some employers, particularly in the informal sector, may not strictly adhere to these regulations.


In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), any work performed beyond the legal working hours of 45 hours per week or 9 hours per day is considered as overtime. There are exceptions for specific situations like pre-defined work schedules exceeding the daily limit but averaging to 45 hours per week.

While the Congolese labor code doesn't explicitly prohibit mandatory overtime, employers are advised not to abuse this practice and should prioritize voluntary overtime whenever possible.

The DRC mandates increased compensation for overtime work, with the specific rate varying depending on the hours worked and the day involved:

  • For the first 6 hours of overtime in a week, employees receive a 30% increase on their base salary for each hour worked.
  • Overtime exceeding the first six hours in a week earns a 60% pay increase for each additional hour.
  • Working on the designated weekly rest day entitles employees to double their base salary for each overtime hour worked.

For example, an employee in the DRC who works 54 hours in a week, exceeding the standard 45-hour limit by 9 hours, would receive a 30% pay increase for the first 6 hours of overtime and a 60% pay increase for the remaining 3 hours.

Rest periods and breaks

Congolese labor law mandates rest periods and breaks for workers, ensuring they have time for recuperation and personal needs.

The cornerstone of worker rest is the weekly rest period, stipulated in the Congolese Labor Code. This period must be a minimum of 48 consecutive hours within a seven-day cycle. Ideally, this rest falls on Saturdays and Sundays, but exceptions can be negotiated through collective agreements.

The Congolese Labor Code doesn't explicitly mandate a set duration for daily breaks. However, work schedules are often structured with a lunch break, typically lasting one hour around midday. This practice allows for a period of rest and refreshment during the workday.

There are additional considerations for breaks:

  • Industry Exceptions: Certain sectors, like hotels and restaurants, may have different break structures due to the nature of their operations. These variations typically require approval from the labor inspectorate.
  • Young Workers: The Labor Code offers additional protections for young workers who must receive a daily rest period of at least 11 hours.
  • Collective Agreements: Unionized workplaces may have negotiated specific break schedules documented in their collective agreements.

Night shift and weekend regulations

The Democratic Republic of Congo recognizes the demanding nature of night and weekend work and has specific regulations to protect employee well-being during these times.

Night work, as defined by the Congolese Labor Code, is any work performed between 7:00 PM and 5:00 AM. While night work is permitted, employers must adhere to specific guidelines:

  • Prioritization: Night work should be voluntary whenever possible. Employers should prioritize regular working hours unless operational needs necessitate night shifts.
  • Medical Examinations: Employees assigned to night shifts may be required to undergo regular medical examinations to assess their fitness for such work schedules.
  • Increased Compensation: There's no legal mandate for a specific night shift pay premium in the DRC. However, collective bargaining agreements may stipulate additional compensation for night work.

Weekend work generally refers to work performed on the designated weekly rest period, typically Saturday or Sunday. There are situations where weekend work may be necessary:

  • Essential Services: Certain industries like healthcare or security may require employees to work on weekends to maintain essential services.
  • Prior Approval: Weekend work requires prior authorization from the labor inspectorate, ensuring its justification and adherence to regulations.
  • Double Pay: Employees working on their designated weekly rest day are entitled to double their base salary for each hour worked. This enhanced compensation serves as an incentive for disruption of their rest period.
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