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Breaks at work

by Ellen van Schaik – team leader care a.i. Leiderdorp, The Netherlands

Because there is sometimes a lack of clarity in the post about the use of breaks at work, in this Newsletter a detailed explanation about breaks during working hours and breaks during training.

Breaks during working hours
At Huisartsenposten De LIMES, we work in accordance with the Working Hours Act. We do not deviate from this in our collective labor agreement (or company scheme). Based on a number of questions, we list everything, so that you know where you stand.

1) How exactly does that work out for you, given the shifts you work?

  • For shifts of 10 hours or more

If you work longer than 10 hours, you are entitled to a 45-minute break according to the law.
You can split the break into multiple breaks of at least fifteen minutes per break.

  • For shifts of 6 hours or more

If you work longer than 5.5 hours – very practically 6 hours or more – you are entitled to a minimum 30-minute break according to the law. You can split this break into 2 times fifteen minutes.

  • For shifts of 5.5 hours or less

For shifts of 5.5 hours or less, you are not officially entitled to a break according to the Working Hours Act. This is the case, for example, if you work from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. If you would like to eat during this period, you should discuss with the triage nurse director whether it is possible to get a break. If you don’t want to be dependent on a possible time to eat, make sure you have already eaten (something) prior to your shift.

2) How do I know when I can take a break if I work 6 hours or more?

  • If you are entitled to a break given your period of service, you should consult with the director-triagist. They have an overview of how busy they are and determine whether it is possible.

If you know when your scheduled break is, you can check with the triage nurse at the scheduled time to see if it is actually possible. After all, it can be very busy all of a sudden.

  • A break is intended as an interruption of working time. This means that you do not start or end a working day (shift) with a break.
  • Finally, it is important that we distribute the workload among colleagues as well as possible.

This means that no more than 2 people take a break at the same time.

3) Does the above mean that I can demand a break at a certain time after consultation with the directing triage nurse?
A break always takes place in consultation with the triage nurse.
In essence, you do not do any work during breaks and there is no continued payment of salary. However, due to the nature of the work, it was decided to continue to pay for the breaks during shifts at GP posts De LIMES, because employees must then remain available for the service.
Continuing to pay for the breaks and having to remain available for duty does mean that if you have a break and it suddenly becomes busier on the shift, the directing triage nurse can ask you to stop your break and pick it up again later when things get quieter. Barring emergencies, you will have a break for shifts of 6 hours or more. This was a deliberate choice by the employees and applies to all three locations.

Breaks during training sessions
Different rules apply to breaks during training. Breaks of half an hour or longer, such as lunch breaks, will not be paid. This is your own time. Short coffee breaks take place in the employer’s time. We also apply this to the approval of training hours by employees.
And perhaps unnecessarily: in accordance with the Collective Labor Agreement for General Practitioner Care, no ANW allowance applies to training hours.

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