John M Shanahan & Co.

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Working Hours

Working Hours

Working Hours

The maximum an employee should work in an average working week is 48 hours. This working week average should be calculated over a four-month period. There are however some exceptions to this average period.


The maximum number of hours that an adult employees can work in an average working week is 48 hours. This does not mean that a working week can never exceed 48 hours, it is the average that is important.

The 48 hours of work do not include time spent on annual leave, sick leave, maternity leave, adoptive leave or parental leave.
There are also special conditions for employees who work on Sundays – see 'Sunday working and overtime' below.

For most employees, the law on working time and breaks is set out in the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997. However, there are special regulations for:

    Trainee doctors (SI 494/2004)
    Employees working in mobile road transport activities (SI 36/2012)
    Employees working at sea (SI 245/2014)

Your employer must keep a detailed record of your working hours. This is set out in the Organisation of Working Time (Records) (Prescribed Form and Exemptions) Regulations 2001.


Employees are entitled to;

  • A daily rest period of 11 consecutive hours per 24 hours
  • A weekly rest period of 24 consecutive hours per seven days, following a daily rest period
  • A 15-minute break if working 4.5 hours.
  • A 30-minute break if working six hours.

Payment for breaks is not a statutory entitlement.


If not already included in the rate of pay, employees are generally entitled to a premium payment for Sunday working or paid time off in lieu. Some industries have REA’s containing regulations on Sunday working. Where there is no collective agreement in place, the employer should look at the closest applicable collective agreement, which applies to same or similar work under similar circumstances, which provides for a Sunday premium.


Overtime means work done outside your normal working hours.

There is no legal right to pay for working extra hours and there is no statutory levels of overtime pay. However, many employers pay employees higher rates of pay for overtime.

Check your contract of employment for:

  • Whether you are required to work overtime;
  • The rates of pay for overtime (if any).

Certain sectors of employment have higher rates of pay for overtime than for normal hours. This is covered by Employment Regulation Orders and Registered Employment Agreements.


Travelling for work.

In Ireland, most employees cannot include the time spent travelling to and from work in their working hours. This is set out in Section 8 of the National Minimum Wage Act 2000.

However, there may be different rules for workers with no fixed place of work (workers who do not work in the same place every day).
Workers with no fixed place of work, in 2015, the ECJ ruled that, where workers do not have a fixed place of work, the time they spend travelling between their home and their first and last customers each day counts as working time.

Useful Link:

For further information download - Guide to Labour Law.

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