December 31, 2016

Can Rest Breaks Be ‘Refused' Even If Not Requested?

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) in Grange v Abellio London Ltd [2016] UKEAT/0130/16/DA Ltd considered whether an employee must ask for a rest break before claiming to have been refused one.

Mr Grange was employed by Abellio London Ltd (Abellio) as a relief roadside controller, a job that involved monitoring bus services. He initially worked for 8.5 hours a day, which included a half hour unpaid rest break. In July 2012, Abellio modified Mr Grange’s working hours and, as a result, he was required to work 8 hours a day without a break, but finished half an hour earlier. The Employment Tribunal initially dismissed Mr Grange’s claim that he had been denied a rest break because he had not actually made a request to the employer. Overturning the Employment Tribunal’s decision, however, the EAT held that employers had a duty to provide employees with a rest break, irrespective of whether such break was explicitly requested.  Implementing working arrangements that make rest breaks impossible can amount to a refusal to allow rest breaks.

This case highlights the need for employers not only to encourage employees to take their rest breaks, but proactively to ensure that working arrangements allow for it.

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