Marius Scheepers & Company Attorneys
CODE OF GOOD PRACTICE ON THE ARRANGEMENT OF WORKING TIME
1440 in Government Gazette 19453 of 13 November 1998)
Notice is hereby
given in terms of section 87 (2) of the Basic Conditions of Employment
Act, 1997, that the Minister of Labour, after consulting NEDLAC, has
issued under section 87 (1) (a) of that Act, a Code of Good Practice on
the Arrangement of Working Time as set out in the Schedule.
of this code is to provide information and guidelines to employers and
employees concerning the arrangement of working time and the impact of
working time on the health, safety and family responsibilities of
2.1 This code is issued in terms of section 87 (1) (a) of the Basic
Conditions of Employment Act, 1997 (Act 75 of 1997), (BCEA) and must be
read in conjunction with the BCEA, particularly Chapter Two which governs
the regulation of working time.
7 of the BCEA requires employers to regulate the working time of each
2.2.1 in accordance with the provisions of
any Act governing occupational health and safety;
2.2.2 with due regard to the health and
safety of employees;
2.2.3 with due regard to this Code of Good
2.2.4 with due regard to the family
responsibilities of employees.
2.3 This code applies to all employers and employees covered by the BCEA.
This Code of Good Practice is of particular significance for employees who
perform shift work or regular night work and to their employers.
2.4 The norms established by this Code are general and may not be
appropriate for all workplaces. A departure from the Code may be justified
in proper circumstances. For example, the number of employees employed in
an establishment may warrant a different approach.
3 Relationship to health and safety laws
3.1 The regulation of working time is closely connected to the protection
and promotion of the health and safety of employees and, in some cases,
members of the public.
may be required to take working-time schedules into account in complying
with their general duties to provide and maintain a working environment
that is safe and without risk to the health of employees in terms of the
Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1993 (Act 85 of 1993), (OHSA) 85 of
1993 and the Mine Health and Safety Act, 1996 (Act 19 of 1996), (MHSA).
3.3 Key aspects of these Acts are the following:
3.3.1 Employers must conduct a risk
assessment. This requires that they identify hazards and assess the risk
that they pose to the health and safety of employees. The results of the
risk assessment must be recorded.
3.3.2 Employers must implement appropriate
measures to eliminate or control hazards identified in the risk
3.3.3 Employers must train and supply
information to employees about the risks to their health and safety and
the measures taken to control such risks.
3.3.4 Elected worker health and safety
representatives and committees are entitled to participate in the risk
assessment and control of hazards.
3.3.5 Employees have a duty to take
reasonable steps to protect their own health and safety and that of other
who engage employees to perform regular night work1 must ensure that these
employees are informed of the health and safety hazards associated with
the work that they would perform. This provision of the BCEA reiterates
the obligation on employers in terms of OHSA and MHSA.
4 Design and evaluation of shift systems
4.1 The design of shift rosters must be sensitive to the impact of these
rosters on employees and their families. This information can be obtained
during consultations, negotiations or by circulating individual
questionnaires to employees.
4.2 The information that an employer may require on the effect of shift
rosters includes -
4.2.1 the ranked preferences of employees for
different shift systems (this should include factors such as rate of
rotation, length of shift, extension of operating time, starting and
finishing times of shifts, weekends off, off-duty periods);
4.2.2 the employee’s views of the
advantages and disadvantages of the existing or proposed shift system;
4.2.3 aspects of the employee’s work that
could affect the determination of a suitable shift length;
4.2.4 how an existing or proposed shift
schedule affects or might affect the health and safety of employees;
4.2.5 means, costs and availability of
transport to and from the place of residence and the personal security of
the employee while commuting;
4.2.6 the childcare needs of the employees.
4.3 The information that will be required will depend on whether an
employer is introducing a shift system for the first time or is
re-evaluating or redesigning a shift system.
5 Arrangement of shifts
recommendations apply to the arrangement of shift work:
should be avoided, especially in occupations involving special hazards or
heavy physical or mental strain.
5.2 The changeover from one shift to another during the working day
should, where appropriate, include a brief period of overlap of the two
crews in order to pass on any information that is needed by the subsequent
5.3 If appropriate and if it is possible within legal requirements,
workers whose skills are interchangeable should be allowed to exchange a
shift with another worker.
5.4 The shift schedule should be displayed or distributed for easy access
by all workers, and should be presented in a readily understandable form.
should receive reasonable notice in advance of scheduled hours of work and
of any foreseeable changes to the schedule.
should be considered to accommodate the special needs of workers such as
pregnant and breast-feeding workers, workers with family responsibilities,
older workers, disabled workers or workers with health problems, and also
workers’ personal preferences for the scheduling of their own free time.
6 Design of shift rosters
factors should be taken into account in the design of rosters for
semi-continuous and continuous shift work:
6.1 The frequency of night work, weekend work and work on public holidays
should be limited as much as possible for each worker.
6.2 The frequency of shift rotation should take account of the
difficulties workers may have in adapting to night work.
6.3 It is preferable that shifts be rotated in a forward direction
(morning to afternoon to night), bearing in mind workers’ preferences,
local conditions and difficulties in scheduling a long period of rest
after spells of night shifts.
6.4 Night shifts should be no longer than morning and afternoon shifts.
Where long night shifts are used they should be carefully reviewed to find
ways to avoid excessive fatigue. Successive long night shifts should be
avoided to the extent practicable.
6.5 Rest periods for shift workers should be scheduled to fall on
weekends-a certain minimum number of times during a given period.
7 Performance of safety-critical tasks
should take particular care in the timing of safety-critical tasks in
shift cycles and during individual shifts.
7.2 These should, to the greatest extent possible, not be undertaken at a
time when the employees involved may be fatigued or have low levels of
7.3 This is of particular importance to employers, such as operators of
major hazard installations whose activities have a direct impact upon the
public, and operators of services such as mass transportation or goods
8 Health assessment and counselling
8.1 In terms of section 17 (3) (b) of BCEA an employer, if requested by
an employee who is performing regular night work, must make arrangements
for the employee to undergo a medical examination. An employee is entitled
to have such an examination at the time of commencing regular night work
and thereafter at regular intervals while he or she continues to work
regularly at night.
8.2 The examination should be performed by a medical practitioner or by a
health professional who could refer employees to a medical practitioner in
appropriate cases. This could include qualified staff employed in a
workplace clinic. The cost of the examination is for the account of the
employer although arrangements could be made for the cost to be covered
through medical aid.
8.3 The timing of these examinations should be determined by individual
or collective agreement in the light of the employee’s health status,
the nature of the work the employee performs and the employee’s working
8.4 The examination should cover-
8.4.1 any difficulties the employee may be
having in adapting to night-work routines;
8.4.2 any health problems that the employee
is manifesting; *
8.4.3 any psychological, emotional and social
stresses experienced by the employee, strategies that may help the
employee cope with night work and educational input on the risks of shift
8.4.4 insomnia and symptoms of sleep
deprivation such as irritability and chronic fatigue;
8.4.5 use of medication, the effectiveness of
which depends upon circadian (daily body) rhythms;
8.4.6 diet and use of caffeinated drinks,
alcohol, sleeping pills, and cigarettes.
8.5 In certain circumstances, it may be appropriate to advise certain
individuals against shift work. These circumstances include where the
effectiveness of medication is fundamentally affected by circadian (daily
body) rhythms, workers with gastro-intestinal or cardiovascular disorders,
8.6 The examination should also include educational input on the health
risks that may be associated with the employee’s work schedule and as
coping strategies that may assist the employee.
9 Working Environment
should regularly assess whether the work environment, in particular the
lighting and heating, are adequate for the health, safety and physical
comfort of employees, particularly night workers.
10 Management services
should provide appropriate management services to employees working
outside of ordinary hours. Depending on the nature of the business, some
aspects of management services should be available at all times to
that should be available at night include -
10.2.1 first aid services;
10.2.2 qualified safety supervision;
10.2.3 occupational health services, in
particular counselling on nutrition and fatigue related-problems;
10.2.4 emergency services in case of
accidents, including transportation to hospitals.
who engage employees on night work should ensure that -
10.3.1 there is adequate security for
employees at the workplace;
10.3.2 employees are able to obtain safe,
affordable transportation between their places of residence and their
10.3.3 there are adequate eating facilities;
10.3.4 there are adequate rest rooms and
services should be sufficient, so that employees working nights do not
have to use their off-duty time to have contact with services such as the
wages or personnel department. This could be achieved by making these
services available at the start or end of shifts by introducing rosters
that permit employees working at night to have contact during this time.
need for and extent of administrative services will depend on the type of
shift patterns. The need will be greatest if employees are working at
night for long periods or permanently; there will be less of a need if
employees change rapidly from day shift to night shift.
working at night should not be disadvantaged in having access to education
bargaining, trade union activities and the activities of participative
bodies such as workplace forums or health and safety committees should be
arranged so as to allow employees who work at night to participate.
agreement to reduce employees’ meal intervals to 30 minutes in terms of
section 14 (5) (a) of the BCEA should not be concluded if it may have the
effect of endangering the health and safety of employees.
must ensure that employees receive adequate rest periods.
number and duration of rest pauses during the shift and rotation should be
adapted to the workload. Particular attention must be given to the
scheduling of rest periods for employees who are engaged in-
physically and mentally strenuous work;
work involving manual lifting;
work involving repetitive movement;
shifts of longer than eight hours.
provide appropriate and up-to-date information to employees about coping
strategies, both in the workplace and at home. Strategies that will assist
employees to cope with shift work and night work include-
11.1 maintaining a regular sleeping routine;
11.2 taking steps to block out noise and light for
employees who have to sleep in the day;
11.3 maintaining a healthy diet;
11.4 exercise and relaxation.
work - the employer operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all year
shift work - the employer operates 24 hours a day without a daily break,
but with a break at the weekend.
work - the employer operates less than 24 hours a day with at least one
daily break. A “two-shift” system is the most common discontinuous
Short or part-time
shifts - daily scheduled working hours that are substantially shorter than
Long shifts - daily
scheduled working hours that are substantially longer than eight hours.
alternating) shifts - workers alternate between different shifts. There
are three key elements to rotation:
(i) The direction of rotation - rotation can either be
forward (clockwise, for instance, morning to afternoon to night) or
backward (or counter-clockwise). In forward or advancing shifts, the
starting time of one shift in a shift worker’s schedule is always later
on the 24-hour clock than the previous shift. In a continuous shift system
workers will work a morning shift. In backward or delaying rosters. one
shift always begins at an earlier time than the previous shift;
(ii) The frequency - employees may change shifts every week or at
shorter or longer intervals;
(iii) The length of the cycle - the period required for a complete schedule
of rotation, after which the cycle is repeated.
Fixed (or permanent) shifts - employees work permanently on a single shift.