Rest Allowances

Definition - What does Rest Allowances mean?

Rest allowances are scheduled breaks designed to permit an employee to recover from fatigue during the work day. The time allotted for rest allowances is usually included in the job design and are usually in addition to scheduled lunch or other breaks that may be mandated by regulation. A failure to provide for rest allowances can result in the loss of productivity and injuries due to fatigue. Rest allowances are also called fatigue allowances or work-rest allowances.

WorkplaceTesting explains Rest Allowances

Many job designs are based on a work-rest schedule that provides for a defined ratio of work to recovery time. These defined periods of recovery are called rest or fatigue allowances. A rest allowance may provide for a period of full inaction, or a shift in the tasks being performed, to allow specific muscle groups to recover.

The failure to permit muscle recovery is a risk factor for the development of musculoskeletal disorders. Studies have indicated that fatigue will increase exponentially over time if not relieved by rest. Conversely, the effectiveness of rest allowances decreases over time. It is most effective to employ a recovery period before the body has become fatigued. Thus, both employer and employee benefit from a systematic approach to providing rest allowances.

Various formulas are used to determine the optimum recovery period for a particular task. These formulas take into consideration the demands of the job and the attributes of the employee performing the task. If these calculations indicate that a large rest allowance is needed, this may mean that the ergonomics of the job need improvement.

A combination of ergonomically sound job design and appropriately timed rest allowances will improve worker productivity, health, and safety. Rest allowances should be included, along with personal needs and unavoidable delays (the PFD allowance), in an employer's calculation of the time it will take to perform a job.

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