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Don’t take a break from your obligations under the Organisation of Working Time Act

There has been a significant increase in cases before the WRC in relation to employee rest breaks. The Organisation of Working Time Act (the “Act”) requires all employers to keep a detailed record of start and finishing times, the times and length of rest breaks, hours worked each day and each week and leave granted to employees. It is the responsibility of the employer to provide evidence that employees are taking the required rest breaks in line with the Act in the event of a WRC investigation or hearing.

The failure by employers to keep any such records to prove compliance with the Act is resulting in easily preventable awards being made by the WRC. The most recent victim being Paddy Power bookmakers which is required by the WRC to pay a total of nearly €90,000 among its employees for not being able to prove that employees were given the mandatory rest breaks.

It is time for employers to keep proper records to prove compliance with the Act. Carry out the following:

  1. Assess how you can best record times and length of breaks for every employee. Different systems may have to be applied to different workers e.g. mobile workers. It may be an electronic system, manual record sheets or rostering the breaks.
  2. Introduce the requirement to complete the time records as a health and safety measure rather than a clock watching matter.
  3. Inform employees that failure to accurately complete the records/system in relation to working time and breaks may result in the disciplinary process being in initiated.
  4. Regularly review the records and store these records in a safe and secure place.

Prevention is always better than cure. It is simply a matter of working out what system will work best for your employees.
2nd March 2019

Anne O’Connell
Fitzwilliam Hall
Fitzwilliam Place
Dublin 2.

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