Working Time Employment Law Explained

All employers, both small and large, are required to maintain records in relation to their Employees. An Organisation must keep certain records relating to its Employees to demonstrate their compliance with employment legislation. Despite this, it is an area that is sometimes overlooked or neglected. Read on for working time employment law explained.

An Organisation may be inspected by the National Employment Rights Authority (NERA) at any time, who will require that these Employee records are produced in the event of an inspection.

Small businesses are just as likely to be inspected as a larger Organisation and as such need to ensure that records are maintained. The following information is an overview of what must be maintained in relation to Employee’s working time. I hope this helps you to understand your requirements and responsibilities as an employer, and helps to avoid any potential issues that may arise.

Working Time

The Organisation of Working Time Act, 1997 sets out to protect the health, safety and welfare of Employees by regulating their working patterns.

The legislation prescribes Employee entitlements relating to break entitlements; daily and weekly rest periods; maximum weekly working hours; Sunday working entitlements; night working entitlements; and Annual leave and Public Holiday entitlements.

Organisations must keep Working Time records in respect of each Employee for a period of 3 years, including details of hours worked, rest periods and breaks; annual leave, and public holidays taken.

Annual Leave and Public Holidays

Annual leave is awarded based on the actual working hours by an Employee, and the legislation sets out three methods which may be used to calculate an Employee’s statutory annual leave.

There are 9 public holidays in the year. A full-time Employee is automatically entitled to a benefit in respect of a public holiday on commencement of employment.  In order for a part-time Employee to be entitled to a benefit in respect of a public holiday, he/she must have worked a total of 40 hours or more over the preceding 5 weeks for their Employer.

Minimum Break Entitlements

  • An Employee working 4.5 hours or more, but less than 6 hours, must be provided with a minimum unpaid break period of 15 minutes during their working day.
  • An Employee working 6 hours or greater must be provided with a 30 minute unpaid break during their working day.

Minimum Daily and Weekly Rest Periods

All Employees, except those excluded by legislation, are entitled to a minimum daily rest period of 11 hours consecutive rest per 24 hour period during which he/she works.  In addition to this, the Employee is also entitled to at least one period of 24 hours consecutive rest in any 7 day period.

Sunday Work

An Employee who is required to work on a Sunday must be compensated in one of the following manners:
  • payment of a reasonable allowance for the day, and/or
  • payment of an increased rate of pay for the Sunday, and/or
  • granting paid leave in order to compensate for the requirement to work on a Sunday.

 Night Work

Night time is the period between 12pm and 7 am the following day. Night workers are Employees who normally work at least 3 hours of their daily working time during night time and the annual number of hours worked at night equals or exceeds 50% of annual working time.

For night workers whose work involves special hazards or heavy physical or mental strain – there is a limit of 8 hours in a 24 hour period during which they can perform night work.

Maximum Working Hours

The legislation sets out to restrict the number of hours worked in any 7 day period by an Employee. For the majority of workers, the maximum working week is an average of 48 hours per 7 day period, averaged over a reference period of 4 months.



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