20-MINUTE BREAKS UNDER THE WORKING TIME REGULATIONS
Does the requirement for a 20-minute break after six-hours work have to be continuous, or can it be taken in a number of shorter periods?
In a recent case a railway signalman was unable to take a continuous break of 20 minute as he had to continually monitor the railway lines. He worked alone and therefore there was no one to cover his break. He was able to take a number of five-minute breaks, but not a continuous break of 20 minutes.
The Court of Appeal found that in ‘special circumstances’, the requirement of the Working Time Regulations can be met by allowing affected employees to take several short breaks, adding up to 20 minutes or more.
This does not mean that you can apply this to all employees and the starting point is still a 20-minute uninterrupted break. However, what may be treated as special circumstances will include lone workers where the job needs to be performed continuously. This may include some security, care workers, caretakers etc.
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