Home > Working Rights > Taking a Break at Work: What are Your Rights?

Taking a Break at Work: What are Your Rights?

By: Emma Jones - Updated: 21 Jun 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Rest Break Rights Work Employer Working

Sometimes it can feel like your boss would just like you to keep working until you drop down but you are entitled to a certain amount of rest by law. Taking breaks actually increases your productivity so it helps your employer anyway. You are entitled to different things depending on your job and your age but it is important that you know what these are so that you can look after yourself and make sure your employer is abiding by regulations.

Rest Breaks – Your Rights

When you are working you have a right to 20 minute break for every six hours that you work. Your employer can tell you when to take it as long as it is taken in one block, is not at the beginning or end of your day and you are allowed to spend it off the premises. Workers that are under 18 are entitled to more and can take 30 minutes for every four and a half hours that they work.

Daily and Weekly Rest

As well as rules about how much rest you are allowed within the working day, there are also regulations about how much time you should be given between shifts. You have the right to have at least 11 hours off between working days with this rising to 12 hours if you are under 18. You also have the right to a ‘weekly rest’ of 24 hours or 48 hours within a two week period.

Working Time Regulations

Your contract should tell you what hours you are required to work but if it doesn’t then there are working time regulations to cover you. You cannot be made to work more than an average of 48 hours per week unless you want to. Also, as a full time employee you have the right to 24 paid holiday days a year. Your employer can tell you when to take it and may include bank holidays, but they must pay your for it.

Exceptions to the Regulations

As some jobs just don’t fit into these regulations very easily, there are some situations when they don’t apply in the same way. For example, if you work in the security industry or work such as medical which needs 24 hour staffing. You are still entitled to rest but just in a different way. You get ‘compensatory rest’ with the idea being that everyone should have at least 90 hours off a week. There are also specific rules for some industries such as mobile workers, the armed forces, and the medical and police professions.

Your employer cannot make you work constantly without a break and under the working time regulations have to give you a certain amount of time off. You must be allowed to take at least a 20 minute break if you are working six hours or more and are also entitled to 11 hours off between working days. On top of this you must be given paid holiday time. There are some exceptions to these rules and you employer may also be more generous so make sure you check your contract.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
Hello, im working in food factory afternoon shift. We have 30 minutes break middle of the day. We working with the uniforms so we have to change clothes before we can go eat. And manager force as clock in to the break before we change uniform and clock out from the break after changing clothes to uniform. So we have 30 min break and actually we spend a lot time just for a change a clothes. Its legal?
Paul - 21-Jun-18 @ 6:31 AM
Yorker - Your Question:
I work for a large hospitality chain. We have been advised if sick, we have to find someone to cover our sickness, if not we have to come in when sick and cover shift ourself despite being sick,i believe it’s our manager’s responsibility? Likewise, can we be forced to stay and cover a colleagues shift when they don’t turn up, and a suitable replacement can’t be found? We have been told we do! If this is permissible we would be working for 16 hours without a break or provision for food.

Our Response:
You would have to read the terms and conditions of your employment contract to see the terms you have agreed to. At the same time, you may wish to speak to Acas directly to see whether such conditions flout the European Working Time Directive. It would not be permissible not to have a break for 16 hours.
WelfareAtWork - 19-Jun-18 @ 2:09 PM
I work for a large hospitality chain. We have been advised if sick, we have to find someone to cover our sickness, if not we have to come in when sick and cover shift ourself despite being sick,i believe it’s our manager’s responsibility? Likewise, can we be forced to stay and cover a colleagues shift when they don’t turn up, and a suitable replacement can’t be found? We have been told we do! If this is permissible we wouldbe working for 16 hours without a break or provision for food.
Yorker - 15-Jun-18 @ 5:09 PM
Lizzie - Your Question:
Is it a legal requirement for me to take my break? I prefer working through my shift for 6 hours and leaving half an hour earlier but my manager has told a colleague to tell me I'm not allowed to do this anymore as it is a legal requirement for me to take my break.

Our Response:
If yor contract states that you should have a break, then you would have to stick to the terms of your contract if your employer refuses to negotiate.
WelfareAtWork - 15-Jun-18 @ 10:59 AM
Is it a legal requirement for me to take my break? I prefer working through my shift for 6 hours and leaving half an hour earlier but my manager has told a colleague to tell me I'm not allowed to do this anymore as it is a legal requirement for me to take my break.
Lizzie - 14-Jun-18 @ 2:25 PM
Bob - Your Question:
Can I be made to work an 11hour shift after finishing my own 7.5hour shift with only 6 5 hours inbetween?

Our Response:
Much depends upon the terms and conditions of your employment contract and whether you have signed to opt out (dependent upon your job). As a rule, workers have the right to 11 hours rest between working days, eg if they finish work at 8pm, they shouldn’t start work again until 7am the following day. Please see link here for more information.
WelfareAtWork - 14-Jun-18 @ 1:40 PM
Ollie - Your Question:
Hey. So I work 9-6 every day.I get paid for 8 hours and my employer says he wants me to take 2x 15 minute breaks and 1x 30 minute break.Not much time for relaxing and was wondering if that was okay!

Our Response:
Yes, it is within the legal framework. As the article states, when you are working you have a right to 20 minute break for every six hours that you work.
WelfareAtWork - 14-Jun-18 @ 12:40 PM
Can I be made to work an 11hour shift after finishing my own 7.5hour shift with only 6 5 hours inbetween?
Bob - 12-Jun-18 @ 8:48 PM
Hey. So I work 9-6 every day. I get paid for 8 hours and my employer says he wants me to take 2x 15 minute breaks and 1x 30 minute break. Not much time for relaxing and was wondering if that was okay!
Ollie - 12-Jun-18 @ 5:01 PM
Dave - Your Question:
Can an employer deduct pay for a break that staff are unable to take due to unforeseen circumstances. E.g. staff shortages, higher than anticipated trade levels.

Our Response:
You can see more via the link here , which should tell you all you need to know.
WelfareAtWork - 12-Jun-18 @ 3:20 PM
Can an employer deduct pay for a break that staff are unable to take due to unforeseen circumstances. E.g. staff shortages, higher than anticipated trade levels.
Dave - 12-Jun-18 @ 10:14 AM
@Tan - what job are you doing?! Your employer should supply you with protective clothing on both counts.
Jack - 11-Jun-18 @ 11:51 AM
ItsAMe - Your Question:
Thanks for ignoring my earlier question?Also worked from 9:55am until 17:30pm without a break.Excuse was that the break is given AFTER working for 6 hours, wasn't given a break after 4pm any way though.

Our Response:
Your employer is not correct regarding you having to take a break after six hours, as specified in the article, your break should not be near the beginning or the end of your working day. You can see more via the link here . You would have to speak to your employer directly regarding this matter. NB: with regards to your response, we are not obliged to answer every or any question. We have many sites, with many questions to get through and we will always answer them when and where we can.
WelfareAtWork - 11-Jun-18 @ 10:42 AM
Thanks for ignoring my earlier question? Also worked from 9:55am until 17:30pm without a break. Excuse was that the break is given AFTER working for 6 hours, wasn't given a break after 4pm any way though.
ItsAMe - 10-Jun-18 @ 6:30 PM
Hi just wanted to also ask how 20 minutes is enough in the baking sun? It's only June and our skin has started falling off even though we use suntan lotion. How have the government worked out it's ok for people to work in the sun for 8 hours and only take 20 minutes rest? Yet advise people not to spend too much time in the sun because it could lead to health problems.
Tan - 9-Jun-18 @ 3:15 PM
Felix - Your Question:
Hi I work a 3-11 shift at a nursing home and we have to clock in at 2:45 and clock out at 11:15pm. We are entitled to a 15min break and a 30min break. But it takes 7mins to get out of the building and they won’t let us take that time into consideration. I clocked out for my break at 5:55 and I asked if I could round it up to 6:00 and I could be back by 6:15 and they said no, you’ll just have to be back by 6:10. I feel like they are taking time away from my break that I have by law to take. Am I wrong?

Our Response:
Your employer doesn't have to allow you time to leave the building as part of your break.
WelfareAtWork - 8-Jun-18 @ 1:40 PM
Hi we work outside in all weather's on our feet. 20 minutes is not enough. Often staff don't even have enough time to put there uniform in the dryer and end up having to work in wet clothing. How is that legal?
Tan - 7-Jun-18 @ 12:27 PM
Hi I work a 3-11 shift at a nursing home and we have to clock in at 2:45 and clock out at 11:15pm. We are entitled to a 15min break and a 30min break. But it takes 7mins to get out of the building and they won’t let us take that time into consideration. I clocked out for my break at 5:55 and I asked if I could round it up to 6:00 and I could be back by 6:15 and they said no, you’ll just have to be back by 6:10. I feel like they are taking time away from my break that I have by law to take. Am I wrong?
Felix - 6-Jun-18 @ 11:12 PM
Hi I finish work at 2130 then start next day at 7am which is only 9 hours and 30 min but my employer say they can do this due to I have more than 11 off after the second shift is this right?
Doug - 30-May-18 @ 12:04 AM
My employer give me a hour unpaid break each day at 1300. They now make me travel to another part of the city to start my afternoon shift at 1400. It takes about 20 mins. That means after 40mins of my break I have to leave. Is that legal.
Gaz - 26-May-18 @ 4:51 PM
I work from 10 till 21:00 and i have 30 minutes break. Can they split my break time. For example to tell me to have 15 minute break at 15:00 and then the other half later Thanks
Max - 26-May-18 @ 12:04 AM
I work 6 days a week and rarely get an opportunity for a break, as i am either called back during. Also, i work alone in the office most days due to ongoing out off office appointments via colleagues. I managed to get away at 4:30pm for a break recently, which was confirmed with my manager although the director messaged during asking if i was coming back. Is there an exception for taking breaks later if there is no opportunity earlier. Please share your thoughts.
Lisa - 25-May-18 @ 7:41 AM
Working in a restaurant, there's a rule thatbreaks aren't to be taken for 2 hours midday, I worked from 10-4 (approximately), and was given my break at 3pm, thoughts on this?
ItsAMe - 24-May-18 @ 9:43 PM
Sophs - Your Question:
I frequently work 6 hours shifts but rarely get a break and if I do it’s 5-10 minutes because I’ve managed to sneak off while it’s quiet. I work in retail so I’m on my feet constantly, do I have to work more than 6 hours to be entitled to the 20 minutes or am I supposed to have it within my 6 hour shift?

Our Response:
Only if you work more than six hours are you entitled to a break. You would have to read the terms of your contract to see whether you are eligible for a break.
WelfareAtWork - 24-May-18 @ 2:23 PM
I frequently work 6 hours shifts but rarely get a break and if I do it’s 5-10 minutes because I’ve managed to sneak off while it’s quiet. I work in retail so I’m on my feet constantly, do I have to work more than 6 hours to be entitled to the 20 minutes or am I supposed to have it within my 6 hour shift?
Sophs - 22-May-18 @ 10:47 PM
Ben - Your Question:
I work 6 hours a day, I'm over 25 and being deducted 30 minutes from my pay is this correct.

Our Response:
If your breaktime is unpaid then you would not be paid for it. The details of this should be contained in the terms of your contract.
WelfareAtWork - 18-May-18 @ 3:38 PM
Adi - Your Question:
I work 10 hours and a half per day from 7:30am to 6pm, and I have just 30 minutes lunch break, its that alright or legal? Think I should have more. Thanks

Our Response:
As specified in the article, you have a right to 20 minute break for every six hours that you work. Your employer can tell you when to take it as long as it is taken in one block, is not at the beginning or end of your day. If you work 10 hours, you are still only entitled to one break. You are only entitled to another break of 20 minutes once you work over 12 hours.
WelfareAtWork - 17-May-18 @ 12:24 PM
I work 10 hours and a half per day from 7:30am to 6pm, and I have just 30 minutes lunch break, its that alright or legal? Think i should have more. Thanks
Adi - 16-May-18 @ 12:25 PM
I work 6 hours a day, I'm over 25 and being deducted 30 minutes from my pay is this correct.
Ben - 15-May-18 @ 5:09 PM
If I get 262.50 today and I work one more day for 2 hours and 30 mins how much will I get
Millie - 7-May-18 @ 4:22 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments