Edited: 08.05.2018 - 11:44

Keywords: Employment terms and conditions

Work pauses

If the work requires staying continuously in one place or is continuously stressful, an opportunity for pauses during working hours shall be provided, allowing a short absence from the workstation. (Occupational Safety and Health Act 738/2002, section 31)
(Work pauses, rest and regular meals are necessary for employees’ health and ability to cope at work.)

The employer is obliged to organise work and temporary replacements in such a manner that all employees will actually be able to take their breaks. The employer must provide guidelines on how to arrange breaks at the workplace. Breaks must not be scheduled at the beginning or end of a work shift. Where employees work on their own, they must be able to clear and close the store for the duration of their breaks. Employees may stop working for the duration of their breaks.
Provisions on allocation and duration of breaks are included in the collective agreements negotiated by PAM.

Provisions on breaks in different sectors:


Commercial sector
Meal breaks
1. A meal break of at least one hour must be arranged when regular working hours exceed 7 consecutive hours.
2. By local agreement, the meal break may be:
• reduced by no more than 30 minutes; or
• completely eliminated, in which case employees may take their meals during working hours.
3. A meal break does not constitute working time when employees are free to leave the workplace.
4. The meal break for a mobile shop employee may be eliminated if the employee is able to take a meal during working hours.
5. A meal break may not be scheduled immediately at the beginning or end of the working day.
Coffee breaks
6. When the length of the working day is:
less than 4 hours – no coffee break;
4–6 hours – one coffee break;
6 hours or more – two coffee breaks.
7. If two coffee breaks hamper working arrangements, one longer coffee break may be provided. In such cases, employees working continually at a cash register are given one additional break, during which time other duties may be assigned to them.

Hotel, restaurant and leisure industry
Meal breaks
If the daily uninterrupted working hours exceed six hours, employees must be provided with at least a 30-minute break for rest, or taking the working pace into consideration, a sufficiently long break during the working hours for a meal in a place suitable for the purpose. This kind of break for rest is not calculated as being part of the working hours if employees can freely leave the workplace.

Other breaks
If the work requires staying continuously in one place or is continuously stressful, an opportunity for pauses during working hours must be provided, allowing a short absence from the workstation.
(This also applies to shifts of less than 6 hours.)

Coffee breaks
If a shift is longer than 4 hours, employees must have at least one coffee break. The break is calculated as working hours and, therefore, employees are not allowed to leave the workplace without the employer’s consent. If no actual break can be given due to reasons relating to work arrangements, employees must have the possibility to have refreshments while working.

Facilities services sector
If the daily uninterrupted working hours exceed 6 hours, employees must be provided with at least a 30-minute break for rest (‘meal break’) during the work shift. The employer and employees may agree on reducing or eliminating such breaks. A meal break does not constitute working time if employees are free to leave the workplace.
Employees are entitled to take one break and two breaks when their working hours exceed 4 hours and 6 hours, respectively. Such breaks (‘coffee breaks’) are scheduled at the most appropriate points in terms of working hours.

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