First of all, our sincere thanks to all our readers. Our last blog was a visible success. We got so many comments from many of you, request for advice on different scenarios and words of encouragement. It made us realize that people do not have easy access to information on Labour Law and that not much, either, is available on the internet. So here we are; with more information on rules and laws governing employment in Mauritius.
Gibson & Hills Ltd provide a comprehensive range of services to businesses and entrepreneurs. These include financial management, operational management and, of course, human resources management. Our HR consultancy and management services cater for varying types of organizational & operational structures. Our clients operate in different industry sectors.
We are often requested to advise employees and employers on overtime work. One of the most popular queries that we get from most of our clients is about whether or not to remunerate it. And often the question about remuneration is a cause of tension if not dismissals or formal grievances. Before giving you the broad lines on when to remunerate or not overtime, let’s look at what overtime really is.
Overtime is defined as the amount of time someone works beyond normal working hours. In Mauritius the term ‘normal working hours’ depends largely on the sector in which a person is in. For example, in the corporate sector one normally works 40 hours weekly. In trade and commerce, the norm is for a 45 hour week.
Overtime work is justified when the needs of the business are such that employees need to work more than their normal hours to cope with increased work load, peak times and exceptional circumstances.
The Employment Rights Act (2008) sets out the main provisions for overtime work (Part IV, Section 16). The main points to bear in mind are:
Overtime must be agreed with the employee and an advance notice of 24hours is recommended
The staff member has the right to say no to working over and above normal working hours, the employer is notified at least 24hours in advance.
Payment for overtime work is usually calculated over a fortnight. It becomes applicable if an employee works beyond 90 hours over a two week period and is paid at 1.5 times the usual hourly rate. Working on a public holiday or on a Sunday is also considered as overtime work in Mauritius. And the rate of pay here is at 2 times the usual hourly rate. Specific provisions on overtime are found in Remuneration Orders (for example the Catering and & Tourism Industries Remuneration Order – for restaurants, hotels, etc; the Distributive Trade Remuneration Order – for shops and commercial trades, etc) and must be taken into consideration before deciding on the overtime rate that applies in the sector that you operate in.
There are a few other important points to note as well:
As long the hours worked on Sundays and public holidays days do not lead to more than 90 working hours over a fortnight, it is normal practice not to count these hours as overtime in the commercial sector. However, there must be an agreement between the employer and the employee to this effect.
As in most labour laws, provisions on benefits such as as overtime pay set out minimum standards only and an employer has the freehand to be more generous if they wish to.
In exceptional situations, an employee may be called upon to work overtime hours at short notice. This could be to cope with unforeseen workload or to cover for the absence of a sick colleague. In such cases, after a usual day’s work (generally 8 hours) the employee is entitled to a meal allowance. An additional break time must also be provided. The meal allowance, according to law is at Rs50 per meal. However, it is good practice to provide enough money for a decent meal. We usually advise this to be at Rs100 minimum. Alternatively, the employer can also provide a meal in lieu.
The spirit of the Labour law in Mauritius lies on the basis that the employer and employee need to agree on the terms of employment. Both parties can indeed agree that instead of remunerating overtime work, the employer will grant Time Off In Lieu. The labour inspectorate will not frown if they find a written agreement, duly signed by both parties to this effect!
At Gibson & Hills we understand how interpreting the Employments Rights Act and the relevant Remuneration Orders can make you nervous. We have been in the field of HR management in Mauritius, serving different types of businesses, for a while now to sufficiently master this area.