Everyone has the right to a break at work
Workers have the right to take breaks during the workday or shift. The right to take breaks comes from labour law, collective agreements, and occupational safety regulations.
Those working in the services sector often experience hurry and a lack of possibilities to recover during the workday. In addition, workers motivation to give customers the best possible service can lead to disregarding their own wellbeing and skipping breaks. That’s not good for you.
“One vomited because of the heat, but wasn’t allowed to go home, because others were hot too.”
A worker’s story shared with PAM
PAM’s Work Environment Specialist Erika Kähärä is all too familiar with situations in the services sector where the lack of breaks is dangerous for workers. Therefore, she reminds us that hurry and stress can lead to serious health problems.
“Breaks are meant to be taken. Not taking a break always puts strain on your body and mind. You do yourself a disservice by not taking your breaks. The employer has no right to forbid breaks, on the contrary, they are supposed to make sure they can be taken and encourage them.”
Kähärä says breaks are an effective way to prevent workplace accidents and helps you succeed at work.If you work in unusual conditions such as in heat or cold, then the breaks are particularly important for your health.
Read more about breaks here.
“Sufficient breaks ensure that your energy levels remain high. That helps your brain, you stay focused, and the risk of accidents is smaller. That’s in both the workers’ and employers’ interest.”
Get to know the rules on breaks in your sector
PAM’s Collective Bargaining Manager Juha Ojala points out that it’s the employer’s responsibility to make sure there are enough workers so that it’s possible to do the necessary work and take the breaks workers are entitled to.
“PAM negotiates collective agreement provisions such as breaks and working hours with the best interest and safety of workers in mind. Few remember that collective agreements include a second day of per week, the law just stipulates about one day off", Ojala says.
Most collective agreements that PAM has negotiated, include clauses about lunch and coffee breaks that are specific to that servuce sector. If there is not a clause in your collective agreement about rest, then the pr Working Hours Act applies.
“The law doesn’t recognise any other breaks besides the lunch break or a rest period during which you should have a chance to eat. Many of the collective agreements PAM has negotiated include the right to a separate coffee break. Without this protection by the collective agreement, workers would have much less time to catch their breath and recover during the workday”, says Ojala.
Text:: Hildur Boldt