Employees are legally entitled to rest intervals at work.
It is the duty of the employer to ensure the employee is getting their rest breaks.
Organisation of Working Time Act 1997
Section 12 states:
An employer shall not require an employee to work for a period of more than 4 hours and 30 minutes without allowing him or her a break of at least 15 minutes.
(2) An employer shall not require an employee to work for a period of more than 6 hours without allowing him or her a break of at least 30 minutes; such a break may include the break referred to in subsection (1).
(3) The Minister may by regulations provide, as respects a specified class or classes of employee, that the minimum duration of the break to be allowed to such an employee under subsection (2) shall be more than 30 minutes (but not more than 1 hour).
(4) A break allowed to an employee at the end of the working day shall not be regarded as satisfying the requirement contained in subsection (1) or (2).
Employers must ensure proper procedures are in place regarding rest breaks.
In Tribune Printing & Publishing Group v Graphical Print & Media Union (DWT 6/2004) the Labour Court held that an employer had not only an obligation to ensure that their employees received rest breaks but that;
“…stating that employees could take rest breaks if they wished and not putting in place proper procedures to ensure that the employee receives those breaks, thus protecting his health and safety, does not discharge that duty”.
An employer is required to keep records to show compliance with employee rest break requirements.
This stems from S.25 of the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 which states:
An employer shall keep, at the premises or place where his or her employee works or, if the employee works at two or more premises or places, the premises or place from which the activities that the employee is employed to carry on are principally directed or controlled, such records, in such form, if any, as may be prescribed, as will show whether the provisions of this Act and, where applicable, the Activities of Doctors in Training Regulations are being complied with in relation to the employee and those records shall be retained by the employer for at least 3 years from the date of their making.
Exemption from Record Keeping Obligations
Under the Organisation of Working Time (Records) (Prescribed Form & Exemptions) Regulations, 2001, there is an exemption for employers to keep records of employee rest breaks.
For the purposes of these Regulations and subject to paragraph (2), the following classes of employer are exempt, by virtue of section 25(2), from the obligation to keep records of rest breaks —
(a) employers who have electronic record-keeping facilities such as flexi-time or clocking-in facilities, and
(b) employers who have manual as opposed to electronic record-keeping facilities and who are required to keep records in accordance with Regulation 4.
(2) The exemption under paragraph (1) shall only apply to an employer if he or she complies with the following conditions —
(a) the employer notifies in writing each employee of the rest periods and breaks referred to in sections 11, 12 and 13 or, in case of the non-application of one or more of those sections (by virtue of regulations referred to in section 4(3), a collective agreement or a registered employment agreement referred to in section 4(5), or an employment regulation order referred to in section 4(6)) of the terms of such regulations, collective agreement, registered employment agreement or employment regulation order and, in particular, of the requirement contained in section 6(1),
(b) the employer puts in place, and notifies in writing each employee of procedures whereby an employee may notify in writing the employer of any rest period or break referred to in sections 11, 12 and 13 of the Act to which such employee is entitled and was not able to avail himself or herself of on a particular occasion and the reason for not availing of such rest period or break,
(c) the employer keeps —
(i) a record of having notified each employee of the matters provided for in paragraph (a),
(ii) a record of having notified each employee of the procedures provided for in paragraph (b), and
(iii) records of all notifications made to him or her by each employee in accordance with those procedures.
Disclaimer for this Statutory Break Entitlements Article
Please be advised that the above-mentioned material is intended as an overview and as a broad out-line of the topic discussed. It should not be considered as complete and comprehensive legal advice, nor act as an appropriate substitute. Legal advice should be sought from a solicitor prior to relying on anything in this article.
Due care has been taken in the publication of this article and we do not accept legal liability as a result of reliance on any material covered in the above article.