You have been hired as an employee in a business. The employment contract provides for a weekly working time of 40 hours but, in reality, you are required almost every week to work many more hours. You wonder if there is a statutory maximum limit for the employee’s working hours.
The provision by law of a ceiling on the employee’s working time was one of the most important achievements of the union and pursues the aim of protecting the health of the worker who, if he is called to work for an excessive number of hours, can seriously compromise your psychophysical condition.
But how many hours can you work by law? The current legislation on working hours sets precise limits on the duration of the working day and provides for the possibility of working overtime within certain limits.
Working hours: what is it?
The law  defines working time as any period in which the employee is at work, at the employer’s disposal and in the exercise of his activity or functions. The work activity is certainly a source of personal affirmation and growth but it is also a cause of stress and psychophysical fatigue. For this reason, the law sets precise limits for the performance of work.
What are normal working hours?
In the current regulatory context, there is no standard that specifically fixes the maximum duration of the working day . However, this limit can be derived by analyzing the rules on normal working hours and minimum rest.
In particular, the law provides that normal working hours are set at 40 hours per week. This is not a rigid provision since collective bargaining agreements can establish, for contractual purposes, a shorter duration and refer normal hours to the average duration of work in a period not exceeding one year.
There are, for example, some national collective labor agreements that provide for a normal weekly working time of 38 or 39 hours per week. The determination of normal working hours is very important because it also derives from the identification of overtime work which, according to the law, is work performed beyond normal working hours.
What is the maximum length of the working day?
The maximum duration of the working day can be obtained from the discipline of rest. The law provides, in fact, that without prejudice to the normal duration of the weekly working hours, the worker has the right to a continuous rest period of at least eleven hours every twenty-four hours. It follows that the working day can last, at most, 13 hours. In any case, it is also necessary to consider the right of the worker whose daily working time exceeds the limit of six hours at an interval for break equal, at least, to ten minutes.
What is the maximum length of weekly working hours?
As we have seen, the normal weekly working time is equal to 40 hours or the lesser number of hours indicated by the National Collective Labor Agreement. Often, however, the worker is required to work overtime. But what is the maximum weekly working time ? The law provides that the average length of working hours can never exceed forty-eight hours, including overtime, for any seven-day period.
Even the overtime is subject to limits: the employer may not require this type of service for a number of hours greater than annual two hundred and fifty.
In determining the weekly timetable, it must also be considered that the worker has the right, according to the law, every seven days, to a rest period of at least twenty-four consecutive hours, usually coinciding with Sunday.
How many holidays are due to the worker?
Lastly, the use of holidays contributes to reducing the total number of hours of the employee. The law provides that each employee accrues at least 4 weeks of paid vacation per year. In addition, numerous national collective labor agreements provide for the right of the worker to take advantage of hourly paid leave (rol or ex holidays) which further reduce the overall working time provided by the employee.
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