Rest Breaks

Rest Breaks

The Importance of Rest Breaks

Are you up-to-date and abiding by the law when it comes to providing your staff with rest breaks?

Your contracts of employment should state the minimum rests allowed and it’s worth checking that all of your contracts reflect the current law.

With busy columns it can be easy to overlook the legal requirement that you have to provide your staff with a rest break, however being busy doesn’t provide you with an exception to the rules.

Rest Breaks UK

Adult Employees

The law allows all adult employees (not self-employed people) the legal right to an unpaid 20-minute rest break, where there is no requirement to do any work, when their daily working time is more than six hours. This should be a break in their working time and not taken at the beginning or end of the working day.

Linked with this is that every adult worker is also entitled to a period of 11 consecutive hours rest per 24 hours and one full day off a week (which could be a Sunday).

If you have self-employed staff (e.g. rent a chair) they are not employees, so you have no obligation under the Working Time Directive 1988 to offer them rest breaks.

Young Workers

Young workers (above school leaving age and under 18) are usually entitled to a 30-minute rest break, where there is no requirement to do any work, if they work more than 4.5 hours, a daily rest of 12 hours and a weekly rest of 48 hours (which could be a Sunday and Monday).

The rests above are the minimum offered by law but there is nothing stopping you from offering longer or more frequent breaks. It is however worth noting that you should treat every employee equally, for example those who take smoke breaks and those that don’t smoke.

For further information please contact us on 02392 29 5000 or to download this fact sheet please click here.

Rest Breaks Ireland

Adult Workers

Adult workers are entitled to a break of 15 minutes after working for 4.5 hours. If the employee works for six hours or more then that increases to a break of 30 minutes, which can include the first 15-minute break. There is no entitlement to be paid during these breaks.

An adult employee also has a right to 11 hours consecutive rest in any 24 hour period and also 24 consecutive hours rest in any seven day period, this should normally follow on from one of the 11 hour rest periods. Alternatively you can offer two 24 hour rest periods in a week.

Young People

There are different rules for those under 18 years of age. This doesn’t apply to children under the age of 16 who can’t be employed in full time work.

For young people aged 16 to 17 they can only work eight hours per day and up to a maximum of 40 hours per week. They must be given a half hour rest break after every 4.5 hours worked and have a daily rest break of 12 consecutive hours off. A weekly rest break of two consecutive days is also to be provided, as far as is practicable.

If a young person under 18 works for more than one employer, the combined daily or weekly hours of work cannot exceed the maximum number of hours allowed.

Duties of the employer

Employers must see a copy of the young person's birth certificate or other evidence of his or her age before employing that person. If the young person is under 16, the employer must get the written permission of the person's parent or guardian.

Employers must keep records for every employee aged under 18 including details of the employee’s starting and finishing times for work. 

For further information please contact us on 1890 946 661 or to download this fact sheet please click here.