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Rest breaks while working can help to maintain the mental well-being of your employees which will increase their productivity while they are working and will lead to the growth and development of your company. Domestic workers in a private household also have the right to take breaks from work. Some jobs legally do not allow for breaks from work but as a responsible employer, it is your duty that you provide regular rest breaks to your employees and it depends on the employer to pay for such breaks or not.
An employee has to be aware of the law that entitles them to take regular breaks at their workplace. Employees who work more than 6 hours a day can have 20 minutes lunch or tea break. In most cases, the employer does not pay for such rest breaks but he needs to specify this in the employment contract with the employees
The Law on Breaks at Work
Rest Breaks Pattern
- Employees over 18 years of age can have daily and weekly rest breaks. In a daily rest breaks rule, employees have the right to a break of up to 11 hours. In a weekly rest breaks rule, the employees have two options. Either they can take 24 hours rest break in a week without any interruption or they can take 48 hours work break in a fortnight without any interruption.
- Compensatory rest breaks are breaks that the employees can take later but within a stipulated period from the day, you did not take a break. People who have professions of security guards, shift workers or work in a hospital mostly take such types of rest breaks. It also includes people who work in industries that have immense work in a certain part of the year such as the agriculture and retail industry. The employees who take these breaks also need to work in exceptional cases such as they need to work even if there are chances of an accident.
- Some people have completed their schooling but are under 18 years of age and cannot work more than 8 hours a day or 40 hours a week. There is also a different schedule for their work at night as these people usually cannot work between 10 pm- 6 am, but the maximum limit is 11 pm. Such people have different rest break patterns from people above 18 years of age.
- These people get 30 minutes rest break without any interruption if they more than 4.5 hours a day.
- In a daily breaks rule, they get a break up to 12 hours each working day.
- In a weekly rest breaks rule, they get rest of 2 days.
The entitlement of such or more breaks from work to the employees is according to their employment contract which they accept at the time of joining.
More breaks can include smoke breaks, toilet breaks and drink breaks. The legal rules do not allow the employees to take smoke breaks during their working hours, but they can use their daily breaks or their lunch breaks and smoke outside the organization if they want to. They do not have the right to take any extra break for this purpose.
Although the employer cannot question the employees for their toilet breaks as it is their human right, if the employer has a suspicion that the employee is using it as an escape from work then he can take action against the employee under disciplinary grounds. The employer should talk to the employee about the same and find out if they have any issues, and taking action against them should be their last priority.
The same is the case with drinks break that the employer cannot question his employees but can keep a check about the same and if necessary can have a talk with the employee.
The country has special rules for the pregnant female employees of the country as they require breaks according to their medical and personal circumstances that can be more than the specified breaks in the rule. Also, they require more toilet and drink breaks than other employees which the employer cannot deny because then legal action will be taken against him.
Unfair Treatment to Employees
The employer must allow you to take breaks mentioned in the law and if he stops the employees from taking the breaks, then either the employees can talk to him and solve the issue or if it does not work, then they can take legal actions against their employer.
For taking legal action, the employees need to file a written grievance in the tribunal. They should ensure that have proof of their claim and can take suggestions from their legal representatives about the same. The maximum period for conciliation is 3 months and the period starts from the day the employees are not allowed to take breaks at work. The employees can also ask their trade union representatives to talk on their behalf.
Exceptions to the Law
There are various jobs in which the employees do not work under the Working Law Regulations. It means that the employees of these jobs are not entitled to get breaks according to the law. These jobs include personnel of armed and police forces, employees of sea transportation, mobile workers of railways and roadways and the managing directors and CEO of companies where the working hours do not matter.
Usually, the employees relating to air and sea transportation have their special rules under which they can take breaks, but in most cases, the mobile workers of railways and roadways are not covered under any special rule in the country. These workers can take breaks for their mental and physical well-being after having confirmation from their superiors.
Taking regular breaks from work help the employees to maintain their well-being that help the organizations to grow and boosts the economy also. For knowing the details of the rest breaks, the employees should be aware of the employment law in the country of the UK.