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For your own sake, take a break

26 Jan 2018

Under the Working Time Regulations (WTR) employees are entitled to a rest break of twenty minutes if their working time exceeds six hours in any one day.

In a recent case, an employee, who was a relief cover signalman for Network Rail, claimed that the numerous 5 minute breaks he received (which amounted to substantially more than 20 minutes) during his shift did not comply with the WTR as he was not entitled to one full 20 minute break. The court agreed with him and held that there must be an uninterrupted period of 20 minutes in which a worker is free from work.

This decision comes as a timely reminder to employers to check they are complying with their obligations in respect of rest breaks and the WTR. A few points to remember:

Sarah Furness
  • Employers should ensure an employee can take their break;
  • Breaks should be at least 20 minutes long where the shift exceeds 6 hours;
  • Employees can be required to remain in or around the workplace but not to perform duties during their breaks.

If you have any queries relating to this, or any other employment law matter, please contact Sarah Furness on 0191 232 8345 / Email: sarah.furness@hay-kilner.co.uk