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When do your employees take their rest breaks?
A recent case (Grange v Abellio London) at the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) involved a company that had asked its employee to work through his breaks and take them at the end of his 8½ hour shift instead of during it.

Under the Working Time Regulations 1998, workers are entitled to a rest break of 20 minutes if they work for more than six hours (increased to 30 minutes for young workers of shifts of more than 4½ hours). The break is intended to be taken during the shift, not at the beginning or end because it is there for health, safety and welfare reasons.

In July 2014, the employee submitted a grievance to the company, claiming he had been forced to work without a meal break which had affected his health. His employer rejected his grievance and he lodged an employment tribunal claim. The Tribunal rejected his claim saying that he had not actually requested the breaks, but his claim was overturned on appeal.

The EAT held the view that an employer is under an obligation to recognise a worker’s entitlement to take a rest break, and that this entitlement will be refused by an employer if it puts into place working arrangements that fail to allow workers to take a 20-minute rest break during the shift; there was no need for a worker to request the rest break. The case has been sent back to the employment tribunal to decide whether, on the facts of the case, the employee had in fact been denied his entitlement.

However, it is a salutary reminder to employers to make sure that appropriate rest breaks are in place and that working arrangements do not prevent employees from taking those uninterrupted breaks. If you have a query about your working time arrangements and rest break requirements please get in touch.
Posted on 05 Dec 2016

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