Rivermate | India flag


Working Hours and Overtime Regulations

Understand the laws governing work hours and overtime in India

Standard working hours

Indian labor law provides a framework for standard working hours, promoting employee well-being and fair work practices. Here are the key regulations:

Maximum Working Hours

  • Weekly Limit: The Factories Act, 1948 restricts the workweek for adults (aged 18+) to a maximum of 48 hours. This is in line with the International Labour Organization's Hours of Work (Industry) Convention, 1919.
  • Daily Limit: The same act limits daily working hours to a maximum of 9 hours for adults.


The Factories Act also introduces the concept of "spreadover," which refers to the total time an employee spends at the workplace, including rest intervals. This spreadover cannot exceed 10 ½ hours in a day.


The newly introduced labor codes (yet to be fully implemented) propose a maximum working day of 12 hours, allowing for a 4-day workweek with extended daily hours. However, the weekly working hour limit remains at 48 hours.

These regulations ensure a balance between productivity and employee well-being in the Indian work environment.


In India, labor laws clearly define overtime work and the associated compensation rights for employees.

Overtime is defined under the Factories Act, 1948, Section 51, as any work performed by an adult (aged 18+) exceeding 48 hours per week or 9 hours per day.

The compensation for overtime work is regulated by the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, Section 14. This act mandates that employees working overtime must be compensated at a rate double their ordinary wages for every hour (or part of an hour) worked beyond the standard limits. For example, if an employee's regular wage is ₹100 per hour, their overtime pay would be ₹200 per hour.

The Factories Act previously limited overtime work to a maximum of 50 hours per quarter. However, the newly introduced labor codes propose an increase in the maximum overtime limit to 125 hours per quarter. It's crucial to stay updated on the final implementation of these new labor codes regarding overtime limitations.

Rule 79 of the Factories Act, 1948, mandates that every factory owner maintain a Register of Overtime (Form XXIII). This register should document details like employee names, overtime hours worked, and corresponding overtime pay calculations. This record-keeping ensures transparency and facilitates legal recourse for employees in case of disputes over overtime compensation.

Additional considerations include the concept of "spreadover," which is the total time an employee spends at the workplace, including rest intervals. This spreadover cannot exceed 10 ½ hours in a day, including overtime hours. Certain categories of employees, like managerial staff or those working on a fixed monthly salary, might have different overtime eligibility or compensation structures as per their employment contracts.

Rest periods and breaks

Indian workers have certain entitlements to breaks during the workday, although there aren't explicit mandates for mandatory rest breaks within the central Factories Act, 1948.

The Factories Act, 1948 primarily focuses on regulating maximum working hours and spreadover (total time at work, including rest periods). However, the act itself doesn't explicitly prescribe mandatory rest breaks or their duration.

Some states in India have enacted their own Shops and Establishments Acts (S&E Acts) that may include provisions for rest breaks during working hours. These S&E Acts can differ from state to state, outlining specific break durations or establishing guidelines for break entitlements. For instance, the Karnataka Shops and Establishments Act, 1961 mandates a rest period of at least 30 minutes for a workday exceeding 9 hours. To ascertain the specific break entitlements in your region, it's advisable to consult the relevant S&E Act applicable to your state.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) emphasizes the importance of reasonable breaks for worker well-being, although it doesn't explicitly mandate rest breaks. This principle is often reflected in national labor legislations. In the Indian context, though not explicitly mandated by central legislation, Indian labor laws, through limitations on working hours and spreadover, indirectly promote the need for rest periods during the workday.

Night shift and weekend regulations

Indian labor laws address night work and weekend work with a focus on ensuring employee well-being while enabling business continuity. Here's a breakdown of the key regulations:

Night Shift Work

  • Factories Act, 1948: This act doesn't explicitly define "night shift" but regulates working hours. Section 66 prohibits the employment of women (except in certain managerial roles) between 7 pm and 6 am.

  • State-Specific Regulations: Some states have enacted their own regulations regarding night shifts. For instance, the Maharashtra Shops and Establishments (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 2017 defines night shift as work between 10 pm and 6 am. These state acts may establish additional requirements for night shifts, such as:

    • Night Shift Allowance: Mandating a night differential or allowance for employees working night shifts to compensate for the disruption to their sleep cycle.
    • Example: The Karnataka Shops and Establishments Act, 1961 requires a minimum night shift allowance of 20% of the wages.

Weekend Work

  • Factories Act, 1948: The act doesn't explicitly restrict weekend work. However, it mandates a weekly rest day for every worker. This rest day can be availed on any day of the week as per the agreement between employer and employee.

  • State-Specific Regulations: Some states might have specific regulations regarding weekend work. It's advisable to consult the relevant S&E Act of your state for any additional provisions.

Important Note:

The newly introduced labor codes propose a fixed five-day workweek with two mandatory rest days. However, these codes are still under review and haven't been fully enacted.

Rivermate | A 3d rendering of earth

Hire your employees globally with confidence

We're here to help you on your global hiring journey.