Important Working Time Regulations Update

In March this year, I featured a guest blog 5 things employers should know about working time regulations and holiday. However, a recent case in the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has prompted me to add some additional thoughts to ensure you are making sure you comply with working time regulations.

Just to recap on how to comply with the ‘Normal’ rules. Unless exceptions apply, you must offer workers the following 3 breaks as a minimum:

1. Rest Breaks

Workers are entitled to a rest break if they are working more than 6 continuous hours in their working day. to comply with working time regulations, you must ensure:

  • The break lasts at least 20 minutes – I always advise that rounding up to 30 minutes is easier on payroll and ensure that the minimum is achieved
  • The worker is allowed to leave their workstation
  • The worker is not on call
  • The break is not right at the beginning or end of the working day.

However, you don’t have to:

  • Provide extra tea, lunch or smoking breaks on top of this
  • Pay workers during this break (although many employers do provide a paid break)

2. Daily Rest

Working time regulations state workers have the right to 11 hours’ rest between each working day. So, for example, if someone finishes work at 9 pm, you shouldn’t require them to start work again until 8 am the next day.

3. Weekly Rest

Working time regulations state employers must give workers the right to an uninterrupted 24 hours without work each week or 48 hours each fortnight.

Compensatory Rest Right

Due to the diverse roles that we have, there are always exceptions where workers may be entitled to compensatory rest breaks, daily rest and weekly rest if they are unable to take normal breaks.

  • Compensatory rest must be the same length of time as the break the worker missed
  • Workers must take the break in an uninterrupted block
  • Workers should be able to take the rest they’ve missed as soon as possible
  • You are permitted to require an employee to be on call during a compensatory rest break.

Examples of when compensatory rest might apply:

  • You have shift workers who can’t always take the required daily, weekly rest break between finishing one shift and starting another
  • Your workplace is a long way from the worker’s home
  • A worker has to travel a long way to different workplaces, making it difficult to take set breaks
  • Your industry has busy periods (e.g. retail, postal services, tourism)
  • There’s an emergency or risk of an accident which means staff have to work
  • The job needs round-the-clock staffing (e.g. Carehome, hospital)

Where More Generous Provisions Apply

Working time regulations posit there are 3 situations in which you need to provide additional or longer breaks beyond the above normal requirements:

Health and Safety Reasons

For workers that work on a production line, for example, or if the worker is performing work at a computer.  There is no hard and fast rule, but health and safety guidance suggests that workers spend 5-10 minutes every hour away from the screen, although they can still do other work in this time, such as reading or answering the phone

Under 18’s

Workers who are under 18 but over school leaving age must have

  • 30-minute rest break if they work more than 4.5 hours
  • Daily rest of 12 hours
  • Weekly rest of 48 hours

When Work Is Carried Out At Night

If you have workers who usually work at night, you must:

  • Avoid requiring them to work more than 8 hours each 24-hour period (this can be averaged out over a 17 week period)
  • Include regular overtime in the 8-hour limit
  • Be aware that night workers can’t opt out of this limit.
  • Provide normal rest breaks as detailed above.

To be classed as a night worker if at least 3 hours of their work take place between 11 pm and 6 am.

In Summary:

Making sure your team gets the correct amount of rest is important not only for their health but also their productivity whilst at work. The wellbeing of your staff is an employer responsibility which should be taken seriously. Studies surrounding wellbeing working time regulations have shown that staff who don’t take regular rest breaks have longer-term health problems.

If you need any advice or not sure if you are complying with working time regulations then do get in touch.

Share This