Your business is booming. You’re thrilled with your employees: they’re working so hard. Many have no time to rest from when they arrive in the morning till when they leave in the evening.

You’re aware that workers in this country have a right to take rest breaks – at least 20 minutes uninterrupted if they work more than 6 hours a day (except in certain circumstances). But your workers don’t request it. So you don’t remind them. Can that be wrong?

Yes it can – so the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) held in the case of Grange v Abellio London Ltd, judgment for which was handed down on Wednesday (16 November 2016).

Mr Grange, a bus driver, worked flat out under the clear expectation that he work through his lunch break. Most of his colleagues had agreed to this arrangement – it had always been difficult to schedule in breaks, so they agreed to forego them in exchange for finishing work half an hour earlier.

Mr Grange had put up with this for two and a half years, before lodging a grievance and an employment tribunal claim. The employment tribunal strongly disapproved of the employers’ practice – discouraging rest breaks is contrary to the health and safety aims of the Working Time Directive.

However, following previous case law, the employment tribunal rejected the claimant’s claim because he had not made an explicit request for rest breaks. The EAT applied an ECJ case and held that didn’t matter – the employer must ensure that employees can take breaks, whether requested or not.

If you require further advice on these issues, you may wish to join our community; on elXtr we have guides and documents to help you navigate the Working Time Regulations.

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