Ireland - Managing risk in a 24/7 workplace

Given the health and safety risks which might arise in the case of any breach, the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 (the “Working Time Act”) creates strict liability obligations for employers. The fact that an employer is unaware or negligent as to whether or not the employee is exceeding the maximum working hours or not taking sufficient rest breaks or the fact that the employee is responsible for having exceeded their maximum weekly working hours is irrelevant.

Employers must put mechanisms in place for monitoring the number of hours worked by employees and be proactive in monitoring employee compliance with the Working Time Act. The decision in Kepak Convenience Foods Unlimited Company –v- Grainne O’Hara WTC/18/18 demonstrates that contractual provisions in relation to working time should reflect the specific requirements of the role and must be operated and monitored to ensure compliance.

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