Published by Kemilembe Barongo


Time and time again, the rights of employees have been the subject of much debate and deliberation due to the sensitive nature of labor law and how it directly affects the interests of laborers. Overtime laws are part of the heavily discussed labor issues, considering the impacts long working hours may have to the health of workers, the major question being, should employees be entitled to overtime payments and to what extent should these entitlements be safeguarded. 

The International Labor Organization (ILO) sets out several guidelines on the minimum hours individuals should work under their contracts with a goal of ensuring high productivity while safeguarding workers' physical and mental health. 


Employees in the United Republic of Tanzania are protected under the Employment and Labor Relations Act which states the laws on overtime. 

Section 19 (1) of the Employment and Labour Relations Act states that an employer shall not require or permit an employee to work more than 12 hours in any day. In addition, Section 19 (2) provides that the maximum number of ordinary days or hours that an employee may be permitted or required to work are-

a) Six days in any week

b) 45 hours in any week

c) Nine hours in any day

Section 19 (3) states that an employer shall not require or permit an employee to work overtime;

a) Except in accordance with an agreement; and

b) More than 50 overtime hours in any four-week cycle 


An agreement under sub section (3) shall not require an employee to work more than the 12-hour limit contained in subsection (1). However, if the employer wants to extend the working hours upto twelve hours without overtime, they will need to have a written agreement to work twelve hours in a day inclusive of any meal interval without receiving overtime payment. If they enter into this agreement, the employee shall not be required to work more than five days a week, more than 45 hours a week and more than 10 hours overtime in a week. 

In the event the employees work overtime, the employer is required to pay an employee not less than one and one-half times then employee’s basic wage for any overtime worked as stated in Section 19 (5) of the act.

In the event the overtime hours are worked on a resting day or a public holiday then the employee will be compensated at the rate of double the ordinary rate for every hour worked (see Section 25 of the act). 


Night work

If an employer wants the employee to work at night, they will need to adhere to the Tanzanian labor laws. Section 20 (1) of the Employment and Labour Relations Act states; “night” means the hours after twenty hours and before six hours. 


However, in order to employee someone to work at night, the employer will require to adhere to the following as stated in Section 20(2) of the act.  

It is prohibited for an employer to require or permit:

a) Pregnant employees to work at night-

i) Two months before the expected date of confinement. Or 

ii) Before that date if the employee produces a medical certificate that she is no longer fit to perform night work

b) Mothers to work at night –

i)  For a period of 2 months after the date of birth;

ii)  Before that date if the mother requests to work and produces a medical certificate that her and the baby’s health shall not be endangered;

iii)  After that date if the mother produces a medical certificate that she is not yet fit to perform night work or that the baby’s health does not permit the employee to work night shift;

c) Children under 18 years of age;

d) An employee who is medically certified as unfit to do night work.


Section 20(4) of the act explains that if an employee works at night, they shall be compensated at least 5% of that employee’s basic wage for each hour worked at night. If the hours worked at are overtime hours, the 5% shall be calculated on the employee’s overtime rate. 



To conclude, the law prohibits the employer to require or permit an employee to work overtime except in accordance with an agreement. However, even under an agreement the employer and employee cannot negotiate for more than the average number of overtime hours provided for under the law. The law puts a limitation on the number of overtime hours that an employee can work.