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Employment Law - Working time


The purpose of the Organisation of Working Time Act, 1997 is to lay down the minimum health and safety requirements around the organisation of working time. It provides for minimum breaks to be taken within the working day, daily rest periods, maximum length of the working week and new holiday entitlements.


  • The Act applies to most employees, however, some exemptions will disapply the whole Act e.g. Garda and Defence Forces, and some will disapply certain parts of it e.g. in relation to rest breaks.
  • The main provisions of the Act govern working time in relation to daily rest periods, weekly rest periods and maximum weekly working hours.
  • There is a code of practice which lays down practical guidelines around how employers can compensate employees who, by way of exemptions to the rules, are entitled to compensatory rest or who miss out on their statutory rest during working hours.
  • There are also special rules for night workers and Sunday working.
  • From 1 March 2019, zero hour working practices are prohibited under the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2018 save in certain specific circumstances. More information on this can be found in our employment law resource on zero hours employees.
  • Under the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2018, employees will also enjoy the right to be placed in a band of hours which reflects the actual hours they worked over a 12-month reference period.
  • Recent developments 
Ukraine crisis

Some employees affected by the conflict in Ukraine may wish to travel there, or to the surrounding countries, to offer aid and assistance. Employers must carefully consider allowing this time away, and how it will be treated, such as annual leave, unpaid leave or a sabbatical.