Working at night – what must the employer provide?

Do you have employees who work at night? And do you know who the Labour Code even considers a “night worker”? Working at night has its own specifics, and so do the conditions you must meet for your employee who performs this work. This includes not only extra pay, but also special rules for shift length, medical examinations or workplace equipment.

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From when until when is it “working at night”?

It is clear that working at night is demanding on the human body and can adversely affect our health. Even more so if the worker does night work regularly. Therefore, the Labour Code lays down various rules to protect the employee’s health. But how exactly are night hours defined? The Labour Code stipulates that night work is work done during night hours, and this is the time between 10 pm and 6 am.

Who is a “night worker”?

However, not everyone who works between 10pm and 6am is automatically protected as a so-called “night worker”. The Labour Code distinguishes between the two. Any employee who works any part of his or her shift between 10 pm and 6 am is entitled to night work premium pay, and you as the employer must keep a record of exactly how much “night work” the employee has done for each employee. But only a worker who performs night work regularly and to a certain extent is entitled to enhanced occupational health protection as a ‘night worker’.

Simply put, a ‘night worker’ is a worker who works at least 3 hours of his working time during night time (i.e. between 10pm and 6am) within 24 consecutive hours on average at least once a week. So, for example, if you employ a baker who starts his shift at 5:30 am (Monday to Friday), then that worker works at night (between 5:30 am and 6:00 am) every day, but he is not a ‘night worker’ because he only works 2.5 hours at night in total over the week.

What category does night work fall into?

Night work is divided into four categories according to risk. Night work tends to be classified in the second or third category. It falls into the second category if it is a three-shift job in which night work alternates with day and afternoon work. In this category of work, adverse health effects are expected only in exceptional cases. Night work falls into the third category if the worker works only night shifts. This category includes those jobs in which occupational or work-related illnesses occur repeatedly.

Night work allowance

Every employee who works at night (both those who work only occasionally and those who do so regularly and beyond the legal limit) is entitled to a night work allowance of at least 10% of average earnings. However, it is possible to agree with your employee a different minimum amount and method of determining the supplement. If the employee agrees, it is therefore possible to agree a lower amount of night work allowance. In any case, we recommend that you have such an agreement in writing, for example in an employment contract.

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Watch out for shift length

If you employ workers who meet the criteria of “night workers”, you have additional obligations as an employer. You must always keep an eye on the length of the shift and remember that the length of the shift of a “night worker” must not exceed 8 hours within 24 consecutive hours (for operational reasons, this period can be extended in some way, which is precisely defined in the Labour Code).

Tip: Find out more about working time rules and shift lengths in our article.

Every 2 years for a preventive check-up

Part of the protection of “night workers” includes more frequent medical examinations by the company doctor. Previously, “night workers” were compulsorily sent for annual check-ups. Since November 2017, the deadline has been extended and you as an employer should send your “night workers” for a regular medical check-up every 2 years. If a “night worker” is deemed unfit for night work by a doctor, you as the employer must transfer them to another job. If the unfitness is only temporary, you as an employer have a harder time giving notice to such an employee.

Tip: Are you interested in the specific rules for occupational health examinations for employees? Read our article.

Workplace facilities – possibility to call an ambulance and heat up food

Other important employer obligations relating to night work relate to the workplace. Under the Labour Code, as an employer you must equip the workplace where night work is carried out with first aid facilities, including the provision of means to call for emergency medical assistance (e.g. having a working telephone), and you should also provide adequate welfare facilities for employees, in particular refreshment facilities (e.g. setting up a kitchen with a microwave).

When can we not require an employee to work at night?

Finally, it should be noted that in certain cases you cannot require an employee to work at night. For example, underage employees (i.e., those under the age of 18) can only work at night with certain very limited exceptions. As far as pregnant employees or mothers up to 9 months after giving birth are concerned, the Labour Code leaves the choice up to them. If they ask you as an employer to switch to day work, you are obliged to comply.

Tip: Wondering how the law protects your employees? Read our article about the protection period and the protection period.

Didn’t find the answer to your question? Is your problem regarding night work more complicated? We are ready to answer your questions, assess whether you are following the correct procedure and complying with all the obligations related to night work, or advise you on how to correct the deficiencies.

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Author of the article

JUDr. Ondřej Preuss, Ph.D.

Ondřej is the attorney who came up with the idea of providing legal services online. He's been earning his living through legal services for more than 10 years. He especially likes to help clients who may have given up hope in solving their legal issues at work, for example with real estate transfers or copyright licenses.

Education
  • Law, Ph.D, Pf UK in Prague
  • Law, L’université Nancy-II, Nancy
  • Law, Master’s degree (Mgr.), Pf UK in Prague
  • International Territorial Studies (Bc.), FSV UK in Prague

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