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Break time and entitlement to pay

  • Czech Republic
  • Employment law

20-12-2021

The Court of Justice of the EU heard the case of a Czech firefighter whose employer had ordered him to interrupt his lunchbreak and be ready to work on call within two minutes (he was equipped with a walkie-talkie for this purpose). The employee demanded payment of wages for these breaks. The employer did not consider the lunchbreak to be working hours and did not pay the employee's salary during this time. The Court of Justice of the EU concluded that an employee is entitled to remuneration for this period, as the restrictions imposed on breaks are such as to objectively and significantly affect the employee's ability to freely use the time during which his or her professional services are not required as he or she sees fit. Therefore, if the employer imposes similarly restrictive limitations on employees (whether for breaks or on-call time), it should always carefully consider whether these hours should be classified as working hours.