Working Time – Employer’s Responsibilities
Legislation – Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 (The OWT Act)
Q. What does it do? –
A. The Act regulates the rest periods and hours of work for employees
Q. What are the legal break entitlements for employees in a working day?
A. 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) An employee shall be entitled to a rest period of not less than 11 consecutive hours in each period of 24 hours during which he or she works for his or her employer.-
Q. Non-compliance with Act, what implications are there –
A. failure to comply with the Act can potentially lead to a fine for employers of up to a sum of €2,500 and a possible claim to the WRC, not to mention reputational damage associated with the ill treatment of employees.
Q. What responsibilities do an Employer owe to an employee under this Act;
A. Records – The employer must keep adequate records of employees’ rest breaks, start and finishing times, hours worked on a daily basis and annual leave taken and these records must be maintained for a period of three years.
Q. How can an employer keep proper records?
A. Different methods can be used such as a clocking –in-system, designated IT systems or paper records, any of which may be accessed by an inspector from the WRC (Workplace Relations Commissioner) if required.
Q. What are an employer’s obligations to an employee for Night Work?
A. An Employer owes additional obligations to Employees who work at least three hours between the hours of midnight and 7a.m. normally or to an employee whose hours of work between midnight and 7a.m. amounts to more than 50% of the employee’s total number of hours worked in a year. If this is the case, the employee is considered a night worker. Night workers cannot work more than eight hours in a 24 hour period which may be averaged out over a period of two months.
Q. What are an employee’s Annual leave entitlements?
A. – four working weeks in a leave year in which the employee works 1,365 hours
– one third of a working week for each month in the leave year in which the employee works at
least 117 hours
– 8% of the hours the employee works in a leave year subject to a maximum of four working
– Generally an employee can work a maximum average of 48 hours in each period of seven days
Q. Are employees allowed to work outside of office hours
A. An employee may be entitled to a claim under the OWT Act for working outside of hours for eg. sending or receiving e-mails.
Q. What does the European Commissioner’s June 2019 adoption of the Work Life Balance Directive (The Directive) provide
A. The Directive seeks to increase the participation of women in the workforce, particularly through flexible working arrangements and four month’s parental leave.
Caselaw – Keepak V. Grainne O’Hara –
A business executive at a subsidiary of meat producer Kepak, was awarded €7,500 over repeated breaches of the OWT Act having been required to deal with out-of-hours work emails, including some after midnight, that led to work in excess of 48 hours a week.