What is my Break Entitlement at Work?

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Whether you love or don’t love your job, you always need to take a break from it. Working through your breaks can cause tiredness and stress, which can ultimately lead to other serious health conditions, including high blood pressure and heart disease. The Working Time Regulations (1998) ensure that all employers offer their staff an adequate rest whilst they’re on the job. But what is the legal minimum of these compulsory breaks, and what is your break entitlement at work?

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Daily and Weekly Rest

Surprisingly, workers are only entitled to a 20 minute break for six hours of work! That means you could do a 12 hour shift with a mere 40 minutes of rest. However, this break must take place during - not at the beginning or end - of your shift.

HSE states that an “adult worker is also entitled to one day off a week”. Those that work 9-5 usually two off at the weekend. But depending on your work contract, this can also be averaged out over two weeks. For example, you could work seven days on Week 1, and then work five days on Week 2.

Other Basic Rights for Full-Time Workers

  • A maximum of 48 hours work per week, unless both employer and employee opt-out of this limit and agree terms.
  • A limit of 8 hours work every 24 hours for night workers.
  • Free health assessments for night workers.
  • 11 hours rest in every 24 hours.
  • A minimum of 28 days paid leave (5.6 weeks per year) including bank holidays. This holiday time cannot be exchanged for payment except on termination of contract.

Break Entitlements for Part-Time Workers

Part-Time workers are also entitled to 5.6 weeks paid leave. However, this amounts to less paid leave than full time workers because they are only paid for their usual contracted hours. The employer can include bank holidays in this entitlement. Part-Time workers are also given the same maternity leave as Full-Time workers, but they are only paid for the hours of work that they’re missing.

Break Entitlements for Young Workers

A Young Worker is considered anyone above school leaving age and under the age of 18.

For every four-and-a-half hours work that a young worker completes, they are entitled to a 30 minute break. Additionally, young workers are entitled to two days off each week, which cannot be averaged over two weeks.

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