Regulation 12 of the Working Time Regulations 1998 requires employers to provide an uninterrupted rest break of not less than 20 minutes if a worker's daily working time is more than 6 hours (workers under 18 years of age are entitled to a 30 minute break if they work more than 4.5 hours).
In the recent Employment Appeal Tribunal case of Crawford v Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd, the EAT was asked to consider whether the employer satisfied the rest break requirements if they allowed Mr Crawford to take more shorter breaks over the course of the day, which when added up would amount to at least 20 minutes (i.e. 4 x 5 minute breaks) rather than one 20 minutes rest break.
The EAT held that this did not satisfy the requirements of Regulation 12. Accordingly, if a worker works more than 6 hours, they must be permitted to take an uninterrupted 20 minute break free from work.
This may have serious repercussions for those employers who use remote workers where it is not always possible to designate a 20 minute rest break. In order to comply with the law, employers shall need to ensure their employees can take an uninterrupted 20 minute rest break free from any work.
For more information on rest breaks or for details of how this could work in practise, please contact Greystone Legal.