Weekly rest periods

08 January 2018

When are employers required to give rest periods for employees?

All employers have to allow workers to have a 24-hour rest period every seven days under European Law (or, at the employer’s choice, 48 hours per fortnight). But what does that actually mean? An advocate general has given an opinion that it can actually be given at any point in a 14-day period.

Mr Maio Marques da Rosa was a casino worker in Portugal who was made redundant. He worked on a rotating schedule which meant that sometimes he worked for seven days in a row. After he was dismissed, he claimed that his employer had not given him his weekly rest period of 24 hours every seven days. He argued that it should have been given at the latest after six consecutive working days.

The advocate general gave an opinion in favour of the employer, advising that there was no requirement for weekly rest to be provided after six consecutive days of work. It can be provided within each 7-day period and allows employers some flexibility in how to organise shifts. Provided that the advocate general’s opinion is upheld by the CJEU, this would mean that in the UK, an employer could give a 48-hour rest period at the start of a 14-day period and at the end of the next period. This could involve the employee working for 24 days in a row as long as daily rest breaks, the maximum working week rules and any contractual requirements are met.

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