Common Employment Myths series: reasonable additional hours

In my line of work, I commonly come across employment assumptions made by business owners. This article will be the first in a series aimed at busting employment myths.

  1. Employees can be expected to show up before their rostered start time and stay back afterwards without additional pay

A common misconception, and I can see why – given that employers can expect employees to work reasonable additional hours – is that business owners believe they can request an employee to arrive early (say, 15 minutes to do some prep), and stay back late (to clean up or maybe to fix work that had been completed poorly) without additional pay.

I need to clear this up for you: if a person is performing work for you, they must be paid for it, no exceptions! The concept of reasonable additional hours relates to maximum/ contracted hours in a week and only applies so you can ask for that additional work without paying overtime for it. It doesn’t mean you don’t have to pay altogether.

What if this employee is a slow worker, or always messes up and has to stay back late to correct their work?

  • Sorry, friend – this may be a performance management issue for you
  • If this employee is still within their probationary period, you may want to consider the option of termination

I would prefer my employees to arrive early so they can be prepared for the day

  • Not unreasonable at all, but if you are directing your employees to do as such, they should be getting paid for this time
  • Creating a culture where employees enjoy being at work and are happy to arrive early might be your best bet at this
  • Have you considered providing breakfast? Cereal,  coffee, oatmeal, bread and spreads wouldn’t break your budget and may just the thing to encourage your employees to arrive bright-eyed and bushy tailed

Need more assistance with your employees? Think your employer might be taking too liberal an approach to reasonable additional hours? Seek advice from an industrial relations specialist – this blog is only intended to provide entertainment and general guidance.



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