Organisation of Working Time Act

Two recent cases published that are worth reading in respect of understanding employers requirements in respect of the provision of breaks and paid annual leave.

The two cases involved appeals to the Labour Court and here are some of the key points from the cases which on first reading may appear contradictory in respect of the requirement to grant breaks after 4.5 hours have been worked, but the circumstances of each situation were reviewed and taken into account before the determinations were reached.

In the first case DWT 1566  it was found that whilst a static security guard who carried out 12 hour shifts did not have fixed and scheduled breaks, he was aware and informed that he should take breaks and the level of security activity over the 12 hour shift provided ample opportunity for him to take an uninterrupted break away from the security hut and his employer was therefore not in breach of their requirements to provide breaks as per the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997.

On the contrary in DWT 1540,  it was determined that a store manager had not been afforded his rights to take the required breaks during his shifts and had been required on a number of occasions to work in excess of 4.5 hours without a scheduled break.  The employer was unable to supply records of breaks taken as required under the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 and claimed that as a supervisor the employee had responsibility for scheduling his own breaks.  The Rights Commissioners award was increased to €1,000

It was further held that the inclusion of holiday pay in his normal hourly rate of pay did not meet the requirements of the act in respect of periods of paid leave been granted and that it was unfair to expect the employee to budget weekly and in advance in this manner for periods of leave and a sum of €2,500 was awarded.

A number of other breaches of the Act were also confirmed in respect of Sunday working and notification of overtime and compensation awarded.