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Employee who worked one month awarded €200 for lack of breaks

Facts: The Complainant was employed as a photographer with the Respondent, who operates a “Santa’s Grotto Experience”, from 22nd November 2019 to 23rd December 2019.

He submitted a number of complaints, one of which was successful. The Complainant alleged that, after another photographer left at short notice, for a period of three days he was unable to take any breaks or leave the “Grotto”. In addition to this, he had to assist in other duties such as “ensuring that the Grotto area was presentable for the next visit” and was not provided with food of any substance. The Respondent stated that all staff were aware that they took their breaks when the opportunity arose.

Decision: In general, a worker is entitled to a 15-minute break when you have worked 4.5 hours.  If a worker works more than 6 hours they are entitled to a 30-minute break. No records of breaks available to the Complainant were provided by the Respondent. The Adjudicator did not accept that it was up to each individual employee to take their breaks whenever they could. It was found that the Respondent was in breach of the Organisation of Working Time Act as they did not facilitate breaks.

The Complainant was awarded €200 for this breach. This sum was partially a deterrent and to encourage the Respondent to put appropriate measures in place.

Takeaway for the Employers: Employers should be aware that simply ‘allowing’ breaks is not enough, and breaks must be facilitated in accordance with the Organisation of Working Time Act. Additionally, employers should keep accurate records of employee rosters, including breaks, to prevent a situation like this from arising.

Link  – https://www.workplacerelations.ie/en/cases/2021/november/adj-00028102.html

Authors – Anne O’Connell and Hannah Smullen

30th November 2021

Anne O’Connell Solicitors

19-22 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2

www.aocsolicitors.ie

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