Employee’s rest period – important information for employer 

On 2 March 2023, the European Court of Justice delivered a judgment in Case C-477/21, which has an impact primarily on Estonian employers whose employees work on a schedule. According to the judgment of the Court of Justice, the daily rest period does not form part of the weekly rest period, but that the daily rest period must precede the weekly rest period. This is different from the previous understanding, where a person working on a schedule receives at least a consecutive rest period of 36 hours over seven days, i.e. a daily rest period of 11 hours was, according to an earlier interpretation, part of the weekly rest period. 

According to the judgment of the Court of Justice, an employee must be granted both daily and weekly consecutive rest periods at least once every seven days, as follows: 11 hours + 48 hours = 59 hours for employees with normal working hours (people working from Monday to Friday) and
11 hours + 36 hours = 47 hours for employees with cumulative working time (people working on a schedule). This interpretation does not influence people working from Monday to Friday, but people working on cumulative working time and on a schedule. Therefore, an employer whose employees work on a schedule must henceforth draw up schedules in such a way that the employee has at least 47 consecutive hours of rest over seven days. 

Estonian employers have time to introduce the amendments until the end of 2023, as when conducting supervision, the Labour Inspectorate will start proceeding from the new interpretation from 1 January 2024. 

It is also possible that in 2024, the Estonian Employment Contracts Act will change in such a way that the employer can proceed from the previous mandatory rest period rate. As the amendment to the law has not yet been initiated, Estonian employers must currently proceed from the new interpretation of the rest period referred to above. 

Helen Kaur

Senior Legal Advisor

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