Employers must ensure rest breaks are given
In the recent case of Grange v Abellio London Limited the Employment Appeal Tribunal considered the rules around rest breaks under the Working Time Regulations 1998 (the Regulations).
Regulation 12 deals with rest breaks and states that where a worker’s daily working time is more than 6 hours he is entitled to a rest break. That rest break must be for not less than 20 minutes, and the worker is entitled to spend it away from his work station if he has one.
Mr Grange’s working day lasted eight and a half hours, with the half hour being unpaid and being treated as a rest break. It was difficult, however, in practice for him to take that break and therefore Abellio reduced the working day to eight hours so employees could work without a break and finish half an hour earlier. This was not part of a work force agreement.
Two years after this new working pattern had been implemented, Mr Grange submitted a grievance complaining that for two and a half years he had been forced to work without a meal break which had impacted on his health. He went on to claim in the Employment Tribunal that he had been refused his entitlement to a rest break under the Working Time Regulations.
Since the Employment Tribunal found against Mr Grange – deciding that he had not ‘requested’ a rest break and therefore had not been ‘refused’ a rest break – he took his claim to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT). The EAT had to look at whether or not Mr Grange had been denied his right to a rest break under the Working Time Regulations. Looking at previous case law, the EAT decided that the employer has a duty to give the worker a right to a rest break regardless of whether it has been requested.
EAT made clear that employers must proactively ensure that working arrangements allow workers to take breaks and remitted Mr Grange’s case back to the Employment Tribunal to consider whether in his case rest breaks had been denied in respect of certain periods.
If your business needs help with compliance with the Working Time Regulations or any other employment or HR matter, please do contact us on 01730 268211 or at