Employers need to make arrangements for their workforce to take rest breaks, prepare or obtain hot drinks and be able to eat. In some cases they may need to provide rest rooms and kitchen areas.
Employers are required to provide rest rooms and rest areas for their workforce where the work is arduous or the environment hostile (for example, involving exposure to dust, noise, fumes, chemical agents and high or low temperatures). The principle is that workers should not have to spend all their time at work in a potentially harmful environment. Employers are also required to provide facilities that allow pregnant and nursing mothers the opportunity to lie down and rest.
The requirement does not normally apply to offices or similar workplaces where it is possible to take a relaxing break at the workplace. However, in some very large offices and call centres the noise and activity levels may be such that it is not possible to relax while at the work station and if this is the case a rest room or rest area should be provided.
Depending on the circumstances and type of business, employers may choose to provide:
- basic food preparation facilities.
- canteens or staffrooms.
- facilities to prepare or obtain hot and cold drinks.
- simple but suitable seating area(s).
Canteens or restaurants can be used as a rest room provided that there is no obligation to make a purchase in order to use them. If a canteen is provided and is to be used as a rest area contaminated clothing must be prohibited; the canteen facilities must not be contaminated by dirty clothing. If this ban is not enforced a separate rest area must be provided.