Let's say I am a full-time employee with an employment contract stating that I have a 38-hour work week.

Is it legal for my employer to present another document that extends the working hours? Is there any limit to how much the employer can get in unpaid overtime?

To clarify: My employer gives me an amendment to my employment agreement with increased hours, and a due date to sign.

  • 1
    When the company "presents another document that extends the working hours", does it says exactly that they won't have to pay you for the overtime hours (beyond the 38 hours per week you work) ? It would be very strange if they enforce that policy, which is totally wrong as we all know. Commented Feb 10, 2022 at 22:27
  • 2
    You can talk to an employment lawyer and he will show you the right way to handle this issue with that company, (and maybe he can also show you your new corvette :-) (Just Joking) Commented Feb 10, 2022 at 22:41
  • 7
    Any question that starts with "is it legal" is probably a better fit for law.stackexchange.com
    – Hilmar
    Commented Feb 10, 2022 at 23:51
  • 2
    Definitely a legal question, but this sounds like they're offering you an adjustment to your employment contract, which is probably legal. You may accept or reject that adjustment per contract law (In fact in some circumstances you should explicitly reject it if you do not want to risk your silence and compliance being seen as a defacto acceptance), there may be repercussions if you do reject the new contract up to and including termination of the contract per the termination clause.
    – JeffUK
    Commented Feb 11, 2022 at 11:55
  • 2
    @BSMP HR is the exactly wrong person to go to in this situation. Commented Feb 15, 2022 at 10:52

2 Answers 2


An employer may request that an employee work additional hours if the additional hours are reasonable.

From the Fair Work government website,

An employer must not request or require an employee to work more than the following hours of work in a week, unless the additional hours are reasonable... An employee may refuse to work additional hours if they are unreasonable.

The fact sheet goes on to describe what reasonable factors can be taken into account.

  • 1
    Note that the OP has now stated its a contract amendment, not overtime. Your answer is perfect for the question title though. Commented Feb 16, 2022 at 1:43
  • @GregoryCurrie Thanks I am the OP. Some of the comments on the question suggest there is potentially more than one answer.
    – Jay
    Commented Feb 16, 2022 at 22:41

Jay's Answer has correctly identified that overtime is permitted under Australian law.

Looking at your comments, it looks like the change would be to amend the weekly regular workings hours from 38 hours to 40 hours. This change to regular working hours is likely illegal.

The maximum number of weekly regular working hours is 38 hours under Australian law.

They can ask you to work overtime, but these do not form part of regular hours. They are called "reasonable additional hours" and there are a range of factors that factor into it. If your employer requires you to work additional hours as a matter-of-course, it's likely to be deemed unreasonable.

It's somewhat unlikely that your employer can force you to sign a new contract, but there are a range of factors that could allow this.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .