Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Take a break - now!

Shropshire employees who spend their working day in front of a computer must take regular screen breaks – but do they really need software to tell them that?

Tina Chander, from our Employment Team, said some companies had resorted to installing software that prompted staff to take a break.

“Difficult as it may be to believe, screen breaks are specifically mentioned in health and safety legislation, and in the official guidance produced by the Health and Safety Executive. The rules say employers must plan their staff’s workload so there are periodic breaks from the computer or changes in activity. But if this doesn’t happen naturally, employers must step in and take deliberate action.

“Some computer software companies have tapped into this market developing packages where a message appears on the screen, or some even cause the computer to freeze. But it really is a case of using common sense, and in the vast majority of computer-based jobs, screen breaks will occur naturally,” said Tina.

She said employees would probably also find it irritating if they were in the middle of writing an important report, only to be told by their computer they should take a break.

“Employers should not be fooled into thinking they have a legal duty to buy this kind of software. Instead of paying out on this unnecessary expense, company bosses should ensure that managers know they must prompt staff to be sensible and take regular breaks. There’s no legal justification to buy screen break software, and the only thing it will achieve is to interrupt productivity and annoy your staff.”