What are the basics of Working Time Act Compliance?
As an employer you are required to comply with legislation surrounding working time, time-off and annual leave/holidays. The standards are exacting and any failure to comply on your behalf leaves you open to potential claims, compensation and prosecution.
The Workplace Relations Commission have a dedicated unit that visit employers and carry out inspections. The Inspectors have considerable powers, including:
- entering premises
- inspecting and copying records
- removing and retaining records
- requiring employees/Directors to assist and give information and records
- asking questions and making determinations as to truthfulness
Several industries have additional agreements governing working time called Registered Employment Agreements.
How many hours can an employee work?
In general, your employees should not work for more that 48 hours in an average working week. The average working week is calculated over a four-month period. There are some exceptions to this average period.
You can balance out the average over four, six or twelve month periods depending on the circumstances of your business and the work pattern of the employees.
The following rules apply to the maximum hours calculation:
- For employees generally – calculate over a four-month period
- If work is seasonal, normal surge in activities, or where continuity of service or production is mandatory – calculate over 6 month periods
- Where employees have a Labour Court approved collective agreement – calculate over twelve months.
What are the minimum break entitlements for Employees?
Employees are entitled to:
- A daily rest period of 11 consecutive hours per 24 hour period
- A weekly rest period of 24 consecutive hours per seven days, following a daily rest period
- A 15-minute break where more than 4½ hours have been worked
- A 30-minute break where more than 6 hours have been worked, which may include the first break
What regulations apply to Night Work?
“Night Time” is defined as the period between midnight and 7.00 a.m. the following morning. A “Night Worker” is an employee who normally works for at least three hours in Night Time and over 50% of their working time is at night during the year.
You need to ensure that your night workers don’t spend more that forty-eight hours night-working in any two month period. The exception to this rule is if there is a collective agreement approved by the Labour Court.
A further important exception exists if the work being carried out demands heavy mental or physical strain. In these cases there is an absolute limit of eight hours in any twenty-four hour period.