If you own or manage a business, then it’s important to ensure your employees are getting rest breaks during their working day. In this blog, you’ll find out whether your employees are required to take a break, how often and how you can keep track of these breaks.
If you employ adults who are over 18 and they work more than six hours a day, they’re entitled to:
11 hours of rest between each working day.
A rest break of a minimum of 20 minutes - this must be taken during the day rather than at the start or end of the day.
1 day off each working week (this can work out as two days off in a fortnight).
However, you may decide to give employees one hour for lunch or more breaks, it should be explained in your contract.
For employees under the age of 18 but over school leaving age, they are entitled to 30 minutes every 4.5 hours, a daily rest of 12 hours and 48 hours rest every week. Employees above school leaving age but under the age of 18 shouldn’t work between 10pm and 6am unless their contract states otherwise. They cannot work between midnight and 4am.
However, if there has been an ‘exceptional event’ and the work must be done immediately, they may not be entitled to these rest breaks (GOV.UK).
Legally, as an employer you should ensure your employees take the rest breaks they’re entitled to. You should make sure your colleagues have the opportunity to take appropriate rest breaks. If your employees aren’t able to get the breaks they’re entitled to, you could land yourself in hot water.
There may be instances where employees choose to work through their break. You cannot force them to take a break, but they can’t demand extra pay or expect to finish work early.
You don’t have to pay your employees for their breaks - if you do decide to pay them, it should be stated in your contract.
If your employees work in the following jobs, they may not be entitled to legal rest breaks if:
They work in emergency services, police or the armed forces and are dealing with a catastrophe or disaster.
They work in air, sea or road transport (they may have specialist break rules).
They can choose the hours they work, or they’re not measured by set hours.
If your employees don’t have the right to rest breaks, they may be entitled to compensatory rest breaks. You can find out more here.
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