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Policies, Procedures & SafeguardsJanuary 15, 2018
Rest breaks benefit workplaces by helping employees work safely and productively. Employees are entitled to rest and meal breaks that give them a reasonable chance to rest, refresh and take care of personal matters and are appropriate for the length of their working day with the employer.
There are no specific rules for when or how long rest and meal breaks should be however, employers must give their employees a reasonable opportunity to negotiate and reach agreement about the frequency and length of breaks.
Common practice is that rest breaks are 10 to 15 minutes long and meal breaks are at least 30 minutes long, but these times vary across industries and occupations. Employers must pay for minimum rest breaks but don’t have to pay for minimum meal breaks. If you are unsure what the general practice in your industry is, you can check with an Employsure Adviser.
Good practice for determining what breaks are provided (frequency and for how long) take into account the following factors:
Ensuring adequate breaks can make a noticeable difference to an employee’s physical and mental well-being at work. People can’t keep performing at a high level without having breaks of some sort. These should be matched to the nature and intensity of the work. For example, a construction worker may need short frequent breaks to relieve the pressure of operating loud machinery or heat conditions.
In situations where fatigue can lead to harm (such as in driving or the operation of dangerous machinery) employers have obligations to take all practicable steps to ensure that fatigue is not likely to cause harm. Always take into account factors that lead to fatigue or impact on an employee’s ability to perform work effectively.
For advice on meal and rest breaks, call Employsure on 0800 675 700.