An executive at a subsidiary of meat processing company Kepak has been awarded €7,500 for having to deal with out-of-hours emails.

The Labour Court said the company was aware the employee was working longer than the permitted 48 hours a week and did not curtail the working pattern.

It found Kepak had breached the Working Time Act and awarded €7,500 compensation.

The employee, Grainne O'Hara, worked as a Business Development Executive with Kepak Convenience Foods Unlimited.

She claimed she had to deal with emails up until midnight and sometimes before 8am.

She submitted that she worked close to 60 hours a week in order to complete her obligations and associated paper work.

Kepak argued that Ms O'Hara was not required to work longer than 48 hours a week, and that she adopted a less efficient system for completing administrative tasks.

The Labour Court found that the company did not produce a full file of the employee's emails and did not contradict the evidence she submitted.

It said the employee's complaint was well founded.

Both sides appealed the decision, originally determined in March.

Kepak appealed the overall determination while the complainant appealed the original level of compensation, set at €6,240.

The Labour Court upheld its original decision on appeal, and increased the compensation to €7,500.

Ms O'Hara no longer works for Kepak.

Employers group Ibec has said employers and employees must ensure that they are, on average, not in breach of the legislation of working hours.

Ibec Director of Employer Relations Maeve McElwee said that while there are increasing demands for flexible and remote working, and operations in different time zones, flexibility is still subject to the requirements of the Organisation of Working Time Act.

University of Limerick lecturer Eddie Keane said the issue was a very prevalent problem and employees were expected to respond to emails or take calls outside of business hours and this was becoming an unwritten rule.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, he said the employer is obliged to keep records, monitor the situation and resolve if there is an issue.