The Workplace Relations Commission has found the Bookmakers to be in breach of the Working Time Act 1997, as it was found that employees were working over the legal 4 hour and 30 minutes, without taking 15-minute breaks.
The employer had used an electronic sales system, which kept a somewhat reliable record of employee’s activity on the till, and when they were off it. It was argued that the employer did not ensure the employees received statutory breaks, and that inactivity on the till could not count as a break.
The employees also stated they often had to deal with customers during their given break times, meaning they did not get uninterrupted breaks set out under Law.
Submissions from Paddy Power declared staff were encouraged to take breaks at quieter times and offered a flexible regime, to take personal-paid time off if they wished. However, the WRC did not agree that the system in place accurately measured break times, and that the flexible leave did not mean the employer was abiding by the 15-minute break rule for shifts more than 4 hours 30 minutes.
A clock- in, or similar system, was not used at the Paddy Power facility in question, which may have helped to prevent this breach from occurring.
It is important for employers to remember that it is there responsibility to ensure employees take their statutory breaks, and that these should be uninterrupted and taken in full.