We provide services to people with Intellectual Disability. Some Service Users present with quite challenging behaviour, which staff encounter and are trained to handle in their daily work. Do staff have an entitlement to a break whereby they would not be in the company of a Service User (the person they are providing support to)? Or is it ok for us as the employer to ask them to take their breaks in the company of the person they are supporting? It is not always practical in reality, and would create an extra staff resource burden, if Service Users have to be supported by another staff member to allow staff to have separate breaks. Secondly, are staff in law or in some directive entitled to separate toilets from people they support? We would like to treat all people equally and as such to have all toilets communal but are concerned that we don’t violate any legislation covering staff rights. Can you advise?

Posted in : First Tuesday Q&A ROI on 2 November 2010
Matheson
Matheson

Employees’ entitlements to rest breaks are set out in section 12 of the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997. The Labour Court has held that employers must put in place proper procedures to ensure that the employee receives those breaks. It is arguable that being in the company of the person whom they are supporting does not constitute an adequate break from work, and an employer should try to put in place adequate facilities to ensure that this is available to the employees, but this may depend on the nature of the work.

While this issue has not been specifically addressed by the Courts in

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Back to Q&A's This article is correct at 02/09/2015
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Matheson
Matheson

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