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This is the act of law that sets minimum conditions and standards to be adhered to in the employment relationship. Other than the specific exemptions listed below, an employer cannot decide that the provisions laid out in the BCEA will not apply to a particular employee, even if the employee agrees to them in the contract of employment.

Persons that are not affected by this act are; members of the National Defence Force, the National Intelligence Agency, the South African Secret Service and unpaid charity workers. Other specific exemptions are;

  • Senior managerial employees earning more than amounts prescribed by the Minister,
  • Salespersons who travel to the premises of customers and regulate their own hours of work and
  • Those who work for less than 24 hours a month who are exempted from the provisions governing hours of work.

Contracts of employment as required by the act, should be created in line with all BCEA regulations. Some, but not all, basic conditions of employment may be varied by individual or collective agreements in accordance with the provisions of the Act.

The following are some of the main areas covered by the act in setting down conditions within your employment relationship;

  • Working Hours – Normal hours, Overtime, Sunday Work, Public Holidays
  • All breaks and rest periods
  • Different types of Leave 
  • Payment Information

What does the law say about working hours?

The general principle is that the longest an employee can be expected to work is 45 hours in a week, and working time must take account of their health and safety as well as their family responsibilities. The conditions for working hours must be agreed upon. In a five-day working week, the maximum is nine hours a day. In a six- or seven-day working week, the maximum is eight hours per day. 

When is a person entitled to a break?

After five hours of work, an employee can take a one-hour meal break, which may be reduced, but not to less than half an hour. You can only agree to take no break if you work for less than six hours a day.

What does the law say about leave?

There are various types of leave for employees who work for more than 24 hours a month:

  • Annual Leave
  • Sick Leave
  • Maternity Leave
  • Family Responsibility Leave

Contracts and Payslips

All employers must give each employee a written description of the details of their work (a contract of employment), including information on all of the following:

  • the employer’s full name and address and the place of work
  • the name, occupation and job description of the employee
  • the starting date for employment
  • the ordinary hours and days of work, wages and overtime rates (and date of payment)
  • any benefit details, details of payment in kind and details of any deductions
  • leave entitlements
  • notice periods for termination of employment, and
  • a description of any council or sectoral determination that covers the employer’s business

Employers must keep records of every employee’s name and position, time worked and any money paid for the work. Employees must be paid in cash, by cheque or by means of direct deposit into a nominated bank account, in South African currency. Written payslips must be given to all employees, and if any deductions are made, this must be indicated and the reason for the deduction must be indicated.


For further information or advice on the above, or if you would like to draw up a customised contract for your domestic employee, please visit our services page or contact us