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Working Hours and Overtime Regulations

Understand the laws governing work hours and overtime in Gambia

Standard working hours

In The Gambia, the standard working hours are not explicitly defined in the Labor Law. However, the law does set limitations on total work hours. The maximum allowable workweek is 40 hours.

In addition to the Labor Law, Collective Bargaining Agreements also play a significant role in determining working hours. Specific industries or companies may have negotiated working hours through these agreements, which can supersede the general limitations outlined in the Labor Law.

Collective bargaining agreements can establish different working hour arrangements. For instance, agreements might establish a workweek shorter than 40 hours, with a corresponding adjustment to daily working hours. They might also allow for flexible working hours, where employees can work more than 8 hours a day within a set reference period (typically 4 weeks), as long as the average weekly working time over that period doesn't exceed 40 hours, and a daily maximum of 10 hours isn't surpassed.


In The Gambia, the Labor Law regulates overtime work, outlining its limitations and compensation requirements.

Overtime work is permitted under The Gambia's Labor Law, but only in specific situations:

  • To meet exceptional pressure of work: This could include unforeseen deadlines, short-term project completion needs, or sudden staff shortages.
  • To prevent spoiling or loss of materials: Overtime might be authorized to prevent perishable goods from spoiling or to secure valuable equipment or materials.
  • In case of natural disasters or other emergencies: Situations like floods, fires, or other emergencies might necessitate additional work hours to safeguard people or property.

The Gambian Labor Law sets a maximum limit on overtime work:

  • Weekly Overtime: Total work hours, including overtime, cannot exceed 48 hours per week.
  • Important Note: There is no specified daily maximum for overtime hours within the Gambian Labor Law. However, this doesn't exclude limitations established through collective bargaining agreements.

The Gambian Labor Law mandates that overtime work must be compensated at a premium rate. The specific overtime rate is not prescribed within the Labor Law and can be negotiated within individual employment contracts or collective bargaining agreements.

In the absence of a negotiated rate, The Gambia follows the general principle of compensating overtime hours at a rate of 1.5 times the normal wage. This applies to all hours worked beyond the standard 40-hour workweek.

Collective Bargaining Agreements may establish different overtime pay rates, including:

  • Higher overtime multipliers: Agreements might stipulate a higher premium for overtime hours, exceeding the standard 1.5 times the normal wage.
  • Double pay for Sundays and public holidays: Agreements can set overtime pay at double the normal rate for work performed on Sundays and public holidays.

Employees are advised to consult their individual employment contracts or relevant collective bargaining agreements to determine the exact overtime rate applicable to their situation.

Rest periods and breaks

In The Gambia, the Labor Law outlines the minimum requirements for rest periods and breaks for employees. These can be improved upon through collective bargaining agreements.

Daily Rest Periods

The Gambian Labor Law mandates a daily rest period of at least one uninterrupted hour during working hours for most employees.

Specific Exceptions:

  • Shift work: The law allows for variations in rest period timing for shift work, provided total rest time within a 24-hour period meets the minimum requirement of one uninterrupted hour.
  • Certain occupations: Daily rest period requirements might not apply to specific professions designated by Ministerial Order, such as security guards or domestic workers.

Weekly Rest Day

The Gambian Labor Law guarantees all employees one rest day per week, in addition to daily rest periods. This rest day typically falls on a Sunday, but can be another day according to the terms of an employment contract or collective bargaining agreement.

  • Important to Note: Weekly rest day can be substituted with another day if mutually agreed upon by the employer and employee.

Breaks During Working Hours

The Gambian Labor Law doesn't explicitly mandate short breaks throughout the workday. However, collective bargaining agreements can establish break rights, including frequency and duration.

In the absence of a specific agreement, reasonable breaks should generally be provided by employers throughout the workday, considering factors like work intensity and duration.

Night shift and weekend regulations

In The Gambia, the Labour Code provides specific regulations for night shift and weekend work.

Night work is defined as work performed during designated hours, which vary depending on the sector. For general sectors, night work is considered to be between 10:00 PM and 6:00 AM. For the hotel and catering sector, night work occurs between 11:00 PM and 6:00 AM. An employee is classified as a night worker if at least 3 hours of their daily work schedule fall within the designated night work period, or if a collective agreement stipulates they perform night work for at least one-quarter of their total annual working hours.

The standard workweek in The Gambia is Monday through Friday, and weekend work is generally discouraged. However, weekend work may be authorized in specific situations. These exceptions could include essential services such as hospitals and security, industries with continuous operations, or pre-arranged agreements between employers and employees, subject to Ministry of Labour approval.

It's important to note that while the Labour Code provides a general framework, collective bargaining agreements between employers and employee unions can supersede these regulations. Therefore, it's advisable to consult the specific terms of employment contracts and relevant sectoral agreements for detailed information on night shift and weekend work arrangements.

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