Workplace – Statutory Rest Periods

Many workplaces these days can be demanding places where there is so much going on, and employees are required to work with speed, consistency for long periods of time.

What can an employee do though who is required to work without breaks, or without the permitted rest periods and it is affecting them ?. Health is wealth as we all know.  

The Organisation of Working Time Act 1997-2019 imposes a legal duty on employers to provide rest break periods employees.  

Employees are entitled to a daily rest period of 11 consecutive hours rest in a 24 hour period. An employee is also entitled to a weekly rest period of 24 consecutive hours.

An employer should 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.

An employer should 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.

It can happen that basic legal rights are not afforded to employees. This duty or onus is on the employer to ensure rest breaks/periods are provided. This is an active not passive duty imposed on an employer. It is not for the employer to say it’s the employee’s problem for not taking the breaks.

In the case of T.P.&PG v G.P/&MU DWT6/2004 the Labour Court gave guidance on what the obligation for employers entailed:

“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’’.

Should Employers Keeps Rest Break Records ?.

Yes.

This is a requirement under S.25 of the 1997 Act which states that employers must keep records in relation to employees for at least 3 years from the date of their making.

Can Employers maintain Rest Break Records Electronically  ?.

Yes.

This stems from regulation 5 from the Organisation of Working Time Regulations 2001 which states that employers who have electronic recording keeping facilities are free from the obligation to keep records of rest breaks.

Therefore, it is essential for employers to keep a record of employee working times to defend against any claim of this nature.

Disclaimer

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.