Working Time Rights of Employees
The workplace and how we work is constantly evolving, and never at such a pace as during the pandemic. So it is helpful for employers to remind themselves of the Working Time rights of employees (which can apply to most agency workers, and freelancers) and these do not change when employees are working from home. Working time rights’ apply to all employees from day one of employment. Employees are entitled to uninterrupted rest-breaks, away from their desks (not to be taken at the start or the end of their working day).
In the UK, the emergency services and police force do not benefit from this entitlement, where there is a conflict with the rest break and the working requirements. Although not binding on the UK, (but one which Courts and Tribunals may take into account when considering Working Time Regulations) the ECJ in the recent case of XR v Dopravní podnik hl m Prahy (Prague Public Transport co), clarified that there was no intermediary category; a worker on standby is either working or on a rest period. In this case, the firefighter was on-call during the 30-minute rest break, and could be called back on two minutes’ notice.
A consistent approach in the UK would promote and preserve health and safety in the workplace. Given the 18months + we have all had, I’m sure this would be welcomed by employees in all sectors and would be practice that may improve work place morale.