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Working Hours and Overtime Regulations

Understand the laws governing work hours and overtime in Ethiopia

Standard working hours

In Ethiopia, the standard working hours are regulated by the Labor Proclamation No. 486/2003. A full-time workweek is defined as 48 hours, typically distributed over six days with a maximum of eight hours per day.

The law allows for some flexibility in scheduling within a set timeframe. The average working hours cannot exceed eight hours per day, even if some days have shorter hours to accommodate longer hours on other days.

While the standard workday is eight hours, employers can utilize summarized working time schedules, where working hours are averaged over a period exceeding a week, as long as the average doesn't surpass eight hours per day.

The workday preceding certain public holidays is mandated to be three hours shorter. This is a unique feature of the Ethiopian workweek, providing shortened workdays for specific holidays.


In Ethiopia, overtime work is regulated to ensure fair treatment of employees and prevent excessive working hours. This is established under the Labor Proclamation No. 486/2003.

Overtime work requires consent from both the employer and the employee, meaning employers cannot force employees to work overtime. There are also maximum limits set for overtime work. On a daily basis, overtime work is limited to a maximum of two hours. The maximum overtime allowed per month is 20 hours, and the total overtime allowed in a year cannot exceed 100 hours.

All work exceeding the standard working hours is considered overtime and must be compensated. The minimum overtime pay rate is 125% of the basic salary rate for work performed between 6:00 AM and 10:00 PM. Higher premiums apply for overtime work during specific times, such as public holidays, where the rate is 250% of the basic salary rate.

Rest periods and breaks

In Ethiopia, the Labor Proclamation No. 486/2003 sets the minimum entitlements for rest periods and breaks for workers.

The law mandates a minimum uninterrupted weekly rest period of 24 hours. This extended rest allows for proper rejuvenation over the weekend. The specific 24-hour period does not necessarily have to fall on Saturday and Sunday. As long as employees receive a minimum of 24 consecutive hours of rest within a seven-day period, the employer has some flexibility in scheduling the weekly rest day.

The Labor Proclamation doesn't explicitly mention a mandated daily rest period beyond the weekly rest requirement. There are also no legal stipulations regarding mandatory meal breaks or their duration within the Labor Proclamation. However, collective bargaining agreements between employers and employee unions may establish specific provisions for meal breaks, including their duration and frequency.

In the absence of explicit legal requirements, some employers in Ethiopia may choose to offer meal breaks or short rest periods based on company policies or industry norms. The Labor Proclamation emphasizes ensuring reasonable working hours and avoiding placing undue strain on employees. This indirectly influences considerations surrounding breaks and rest periods during the workday.

Night shift and weekend regulations

In Ethiopia, Labor Proclamation No. 486/2003 sets the regulations for night shift and weekend work, including compensation premiums for these demanding schedules.

Night work is defined as any work performed during the night period, typically between 10:00 PM and 6:00 AM. Work performed during these hours must be compensated at a higher rate than regular wages. The minimum night work premium is set at 150% of the employee's basic salary rate. Employers cannot force employees to work night shifts, as it requires the employee's consent. The night work premium applies regardless of whether the work falls within regular working hours or as overtime. For instance, if an employee works from 8:00 PM to 4:00 AM, they would be entitled to both the overtime premium and the night work premium for the entire duration.

Ethiopian law mandates a minimum uninterrupted weekly rest period of 24 hours. If an employee is required to work on their designated rest day, they are entitled to be paid double their normal wage rate for the hours worked. However, there's no legal requirement for additional compensation for working on Saturdays or Sundays as long as they fall within the employee's regular working hours.

While not mandated by law, some employers in Ethiopia may offer additional incentives or compensation for weekend work to attract and retain employees. This could include higher pay rates, bonus structures, or compensatory time off during the week.

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