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How long can you work before you are legally obliged to take a rest day?

All employers have to allow workers to have a 24-hour rest period every seven days under European Law. But what does that actually mean? Slightly strangely, the European Court has held that it can actually be given at any point in a 14-day period.

Mr Maio Marques da Rosa was a casino worker in Portugal who was made redundant. He worked on a rotating schedule which meant that sometimes he worked for seven days in a row. After he was dismissed, he claimed that his employer had not given him his weekly rest period of 24 hours every seven days. He argued that it should have been given at the latest after six consecutive working days.

The CJEU decided that there was no requirement for weekly rest to be provided after six consecutive days of work. It can be provided within each 7-day period and allows employers some flexibility in how to organise shifts. This means that in the UK, an employer could give a 48-hour rest period at the start of a 14-day period and at the end of the next period. This could involve the employee working for 24 days in a row as long as daily rest breaks, the maximum working week rules and any contractual requirements are met.