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A van driver who said he had to urinate in a bottle because of the pressure of 10-hour cross-country delivery runs for an Italian food importer has won €15,000 for working excessive hours without breaks.

What were the significant working time breaches?

The employee’s lawyer stated that the agreed working hours for their client was 7am-5pm but would never end up being those hours. The employee has said to work up to 12-13 hours a day without even a rest period or lunch break. On average the working weeks would have consisted of between 55-70 hours.

What does Irish law say about working hours?

Under Irish legislation, the maximum number of hours you can work in an average working week is 48 hours. A working week can be more than 48 hours, it is the average that is important. For example, an average reference period to calculate working hours for employees is 4 months.

What does the Irish law say about taking breaks?

Employees are entitled to;

  • A daily rest period of 11 consecutive hours per 24 hour period
  • A weekly rest period of 24 consecutive hours per seven days, following a daily rest period
  • A 15-minute break where more than 4½ hours have been worked
  • A 30-minute break where more than 6 hours have been worked, which may include the first break

Payment for breaks is not a statutory entitlement.

Why was the €15,000 from the WRC awarded to the employee?

Ultimately, the award was granted to the employee for the lack forest period received in employment and forthe excessive working hours.

The WRC found that the employee was working up to 12-13 hour days and completing daily journeys between 600-900km’s.

This was all contested by the employer who submitted vehicle tracking data which was then rejected by the adjudicator for not having sufficient evidence that it was the employee in question that matched the evidence received.

€7,500 was awarded for the lack of rest received for the amount of travelling and physical demands the employee was subject to.

The other €7,500 was awarded for over-exceeding the max amount of working hours per week to be completed by an employee. This occurred over a 4 month period.