Rest Breaks & Working Hours

Rest Periods and Breaks

Rest Break During a Shift

AdultYoung Person (under 18 and over school leaving age)
Shifts of over 6 hours – a minimum of 20 mins.should be taken during the shift.Shifts over 4.5 hours – a minimum of 30 mins. should be taken during the shift.
> Individuals must be able to leave their normal workstation and be free of interruptions during the break;
> Only one break per 24 hours is necessary;
> Payment during the rest period is not mandatory;.
> Ideally the break should not be taken at the beginning or end of the shift.

The same conditions apply.

TIP – to maintain alertness and quality, you may find it benefiicial to give more than one rest break during a shift even if one of the breaks is shorter than 20 minutes.

Rest Periods Between Working Days and per Week

AdultsYoung People Under 18 and
over school leaving age
Daily 11 hours per day minimum in between work shifts.12 hours rest between shifts.
WeeklyEither 24 consecutive hours for one day per week or
48 hours in a fortnight i.e. flexibility to put two rest periods together or compensate within x days/weeks.
Expected to be given 2 days per week i.e. 48 hours.

An individual can not opt out unless a collective agreement exists on rest periods

Maximum Working Hours

Day’ Workers

Adults Young People Under 18 and
over school leaving age
Average of 48 hours per week, if an individual has not opted out
of the 48 hour week.
Maximum of 40 hours per week and a limit of 8 hours per day,
May be averaged over a set period of 17 weeks..Averaging out weekly hours is not permitted for those under 18 years of age hence the maximum is 40 hours each week.
The limit of 48 hours includes all the hours worked in different jobs in a week – you must not exceed 48 hours in total.

The maximum of 48 hours does not apply to the following type of roles:
> security and surveillance;
> emergency services, police, armed forces;
> sea farers and fishermen;
> domestic servant in a private household;
> if 24-hour staffing is required;
> individuals who are subject to unmeasured working time and the individual is in control of his/her work decisions.
The maximum applies to the total of all hours worked across all jobs if you hold more than one.

Note – For what counts or does not count as working hours see the Government site at

Night’ Workers

Adult Young Person (under 18 and over school leaving age)
A night worker is defined as an individual who normally works
at least 3 hours of a shift between 2300 and 0600 hours on most nights.

Note that there are two maximum limits:
i) Maximum = average of 8 hours per 24 hours period over 17 weeks.
ii) Maximum = 8 hours in any 24 hours period – if the work involves Special Hazards of Significant Mental or Physical Strain.
Opting Out is not permitted;
Young people must not work between: 2200 and 0600 or 2300 and 0700 or 2400 to 0400

TIPNight workers must be given a free health assessment at regular intervals and transferred off nights if certified health issues arise.

Exceptions to the Above

Alternative Compensatory Rest Periods and Shift Breaks

In certain types of operations of surges in work, a temporary relaxation of the above requiements may be permissible but compensatory rest periods must be given if an individual is prevented from having a rest period or only a reduced period due to, for example, the nature of the work, finish and start of shift times or a surge in work requirements.

Shift Workers

Not entitled to daily and weekly rest periods and rest break during shifts as above BUT must be given compensatory rest periods at another time.

Compensatory time

Exceptional or Unforeseen Event(s)

An adult may be required to work in excess of the periods above if there is an exceptional or unforeseen event and the consequences are unavoidable – must be given .

Seasonal Work surges or Continuous Operations

The above regarding exceptional events also applies if there is a heavy seasonal demand or the need for continuous operations such as security – compensatory rest periods/breaks must be given at another time.

TIP – Managers should check whether the working pattern allows for 90 hours of rest per week – if not, you should review the pattern as you may be deemed tobe breaking the regulations and damaging the health of those employees.

Mobile Workers

This includes, for example, drivers, travelling workers. Although Night Work limits do not apply, affected individuals must be given compensatory rest periods.

Road transport and rail regulations may impose other limits on certain drivers.

Time spent traveling to and from the last customer will usually be deemed to be part of the working hours. Hence this may require the provision for break periods etc at an appropriate point in the work schedule.