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Employee break time in company: what are the rules?

Verified 08 March 2021 - Legal and Administrative Information Directorate (Prime Minister)

During actual working time, the employee shall be at the disposal of the employer and shall comply with its instructions.

During this working time, he cannot interrupt his professional activity to take care of his personal activities.

Break time is a short work stoppage in the workplace.

Example :

The employee can freely go about his or her personal business without having to follow the instructions of his or her employer (to call, have coffee, smoke a cigarette).

Of treaty provisions may provide for pay for break time when it is not recognised as effective working time.

Major

As soon as the daily working time reaches 6 hours, the employee must benefit from a break of at least 20 minutes consecutive.

The break is granted:

  • Immediately after 6 hours of work
  • Either before the 6-hour period is fully completed

A company or establishment agreement or agreement may set a higher break time.

Minor

An employee under 18 years of age must be given a break of at least 30 minutes after a continuous working period of 4 hours 30.

The break is granted:

  • Immediately after 4 hours 30 minutes of work
  • Either before the 6-hour period is fully completed

A company or establishment agreement or agreement may set a higher break time.

During the break, the employee is not under the direction of his or her employer.

The break is not normally remunerated, since it is not counted as a actual working time.

Pause time must be paid as long as it meets the conditions of actual working time.

Example :

When the employer asks an employee to watch the phone during the break. In this case, the salary is maintained and the break time is taken into account in the calculation of the remuneration.

Of treaty provisions more advantageous may apply.

There is a tolerance for breaks at work when employees take breaks in a reasonable manner.

In practice, an employer can sanction abuse with a simple reproach, disciplinary lay-off even dismissal for misconduct.

An employee who believes that the employer is not respecting the break times may alert labour inspection and enter prud'homme council (CPH).