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Request and refusal not necessary in rest break claims

BY Fiona McBeath
Employment Law & HR
BG Purple

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has found that workers do not need have a request for a rest break denied before they can bring a claim for breach of the Working Time Regulations 1998.

Regulation 30 of the WTR sets out that, where an employee is “refused” the right to a rest break, they may bring a claim. In Grange v Abellio London Ltd the claimant’s working day lasted eight and a half hours, with the final half hour counting as an unpaid rest break. In 2012, the working day was shortened to eight hours, with staff being permitted to leave earlier in lieu of a break. Mr Grange alleged that this was in breach of the WTR and raised a claim.

The ET followed the approach of the EAT in earlier case law and found that, since Mr Grange had not actually asked for a break, his rights had not been denied. However, the EAT found that this approach was too restrictive and did not give purposive effect to workers’ rights under the WTR. It found that, while workers could not be forced to take rest breaks, employers needed to proactively ensure that working arrangements allowed for workers to take those breaks. The case has been remitted to the ET for reconsideration.

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