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The Emails, the Organisation of Working Time and the Employee who won her claim

Checking work Emails outside normal work hours can add up to a breach


smart phone showing work emails arrivingEmail communication has been a boon to business communication. So has the use of a smart phone for work purposes. Like everything, overuse can lead to abuse. That’s what happened in a case which went as far as the Irish Labour Court. The employee Grainne O’Hara was awarded €7,500 for repeated breaches of the Working Time legislation in Ireland by her employer Keepak Convenience Foods. (DWT1820)


The Organisation of Working Time Act 1997

This is the main piece of legislation in Ireland dealing with working hours .

It sets out the permitted hours averaged over a four month reference period. The onus is on the employer to ensure that the employee complies with the act. If an employee can set out a prima facie case that the employer has not taken sufficient precautions to prevent a breach of the act then the onus falls on the employer to show that policies and procedures are in place, have been communicated effectively and are enforced to ensure that employees are not working excessive hours.

Employers must keep records of working hours in a format specified in the Act. In this case the employer did not have the requisite records available. It became clear from the evidence that the employer was aware of the working system of Ms O’Hara and had failed to prevent it arising in the first place and had also failed to take any steps to stop it. The employer argued that they did not require her to work those hours. The Labour Court found that this was not a sufficient argument to discharge the onus placed on the employer by the legislation.

The onus on the employer is a positive one. The lack of positive intervention on the part of the employer in this case left them in a weak position in relation to the claim.

 For related article, Working Time see


My employer constantly emails me outside office hours. What can I do ?

Keep track of the time. Does it add up to a breach of the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 ? If so then you should contact us and we will advise on how best to proceed.



I don’t know how to calculate whether or not a breach has occurred. What can I do ?

Contact us, using the orange Yes! Tell Me More button below and one of our experts will advise on what to do next.








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