January 14, 2014

What Rest Breaks Are You Entitled to at Work?

This post was written by: Aston Bond Law Firm

The law surrounding rest breaks at work is often misunderstood with many individuals believing that everybody, not dependent on time or work facility, is entitled to 1 hours break per working day. However, the law surrounding breaks in work has many variables.

Adult workers must have a rest break of 20 minutes when a day’s working time is more than 6 hours. Workers aged between 15 – 18 are entitled to a rest break of 30 minutes where daily working time is more than 4.5 hours.

Workers have the right to take an uninterrupted rest break, away from their workstation. Workers can be required to remain in or about their workplace (but not at their workstation) whilst taking a rest break, provided that they are not still having to perform any duties. However, there is no need for employers to provide separate facilities or accommodation for workers to take a rest break. There is no restriction as to when the break must be taken but it should ideally be taken near the middle of the shift.

Employers must ensure that workers can take their rest periods or breaks but are not required to force workers to take them. Workers can elect to work through a rest period or break, provided they do not risk their own or others’ health or safety.

Workers carrying out monotonous or pre-determined work, such as on a production line, are given special protection. Where the pattern of work is “such as to put the health and safety of a worker… at risk, in particular because the work is monotonous or the work-rate predetermined”, the employer must make sure that the worker is given “adequate rest breaks”. This may therefore involve giving the worker further short breaks in addition to the usual rest breaks.

The break need not be paid, unless the workers contract states otherwise and providing that the workers have not previously been receiving longer and/or paid rest breaks, as this ‘entitlement’ may have become a term implied by custom and practice.

There is no need to keep records of rest breaks taken or forgone, although it may be prudent to do so to create a paper trail in case of a dispute arising.

Aston Bond solicitors in Slough assist employers and employees across the south east with employment law matters. As a specialist employment law solicitor I am able to assist you with employment disputes. For further information on our employment law services please visit our employment law page or call us on 01753 486 777 for a free, no obligation discussion about your matter.

Dion McCarthy, Litigation & Employment Solicitor Advocate


If your currently undergoing a dispute at work with your employer or employee please contact our specialist employment law solicitors in Slough. Call us on 01753 486 777 or email info@astonbond.co.uk. Alternatively, you can visit our offices at 135 High Street, Slough, Berkshire, SL1 1DN.