Not Allowed To Take My Rest Breaks At Work
Whilst working you're entitled to a certain amount of rest breaks, but what if you don’t get any at all?
Getting advice on employment issues is essential to establishing your case and getting the rights you deserve
What Breaks Am I Entitled To?
Employers are generally free to tell you when you should take your breaks. Typically, for those working 9am-5pm, breaks will take place sometime in the middle of the day, and away from your work station. Unless your contract says so, you don't have an automatic right to be paid for any smoking breaks or rest breaks
If you are over 18, you're usually entitled to 3 kinds of breaks; daily, weekly and those you take during your shift.
All workers (aged 18 or over), have the right to 11 hours rest between working days, known as 'daily rest'. In terms of weekly rest, you have the right to an uninterrupted 24 hours without work each week or 48 hours every 2 weeks (per fortnight).
Although employers often provide for longer break time, the law says that you must take a break of no less than 20 minutes if you work 6 hours or more per day. If your job is one where your health and safety may be put at risk due to the monotonous nature of the work (production line, packing, etc.) then your employer should give you as many breaks during your shift as may be necessary to prevent injury.
Of course, in addition to these 'basic minimum' breaks, your contract may allow for longer break times so it is important to check what your contract says and if you're still unclear, you might want to ask your Human Resources (HR) Department if you have one or, a senior manager. There are exemptions to the right to a rest break in some professions and certain types of workers are entitled to a compensatory break if they don't get a specific rest period.
Should I Just Approach My Employer?
If you feel comfortable approaching your employer to clarify your entitlement to rest breaks then this is the first step you should take. Alternatively, if you have been told that you can't have a break or your employer has been cutting your break short you may want to talk to your trade union representative.
In most instances, if you have a legal case, your trade union representative can put you in contact with a solicitor. At Simpson Millar LLP, we work closely with unions to provide legal services to their members
What Can I Do Legally?
In terms of funding for your case, legal aid is generally no longer available. This can make it extremely hard for you to take a claim to an Employment Tribunal, even if you have a perfectly valid case.
That's why we launched our telephone fixed fee advice service
, we realised that in some instances people just want to talk to a solicitor to get a clear legal view on their situation.
Our service gets you 30 minutes of sound legal advice given to you by a solicitor on the telephone.
We will summarise our advice to you in written form so you can think about what decision you take next. Our advice will set out the options open to you in your current situation and the various ways in which we can help you with your claim.
Everyone deserves a break; don't let yours go without seeking proper legal advice.
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Justice is not as inaccessible as you might think