The Employment Appeal Tribunal has ruled that compensation for personal injury is available to employees in failure to provide rest break claims under the Working Time Regulations. The EAT also suggested that in low value claims, tribunals should take a proportionate and common sense approach in determining what is just and equitable compensation without the need for obtaining costly medical evidence.

Background

Workers are entitled to a 20 minutes unpaid rest break when they work for more than six hours per day under Regulation 12 of the Working Time Regulations ("WTR"). A breach of Regulation 12 entitles workers to bring a claim for compensation under Regulation 30(4). If the claim is upheld, the Tribunal can award such compensation that it considers just and equitable in all the circumstances, having regard to: (1) the employer's default in refusing to permit the worker to exercise the right, and (2) any loss sustained by the worker which is attributable to the matters complained of.

Previous cases have held that compensation for injury to feelings is not available in such claims.

A Tribunal upheld part of the Claimant's claim that the employer had failed to provide him with rest breaks during a 14 days working period. The Claimant did not suffer any financial loss as a result of the breach. However, the Claimant had a pre-existing medical condition, known to his employer, which required him to regulate his food intake. The Tribunal found that as a result of him not having rest breaks, he did not have the opportunity to eat properly, which caused him some discomfort and stress. The Tribunal made a just and equitable award of £750.

On appeal, the employer argued that personal injury compensation is not available for Regulation 30(4) WTR compensation claims. In the alternative, it argued that the award of £750 was excessive.

Decision

The EAT ruled that personal injury compensation is available for Regulation 30(4) WTR compensation claims. It also rejected the employer's argument that the award of £750 was excessive and that the award should have been subject to a rigorous assessment looking at medical evidence, remoteness and the Judicial College Guidelines on personal injury. In low value claims, such as this case, tribunals should take a common sense approach without the need for obtaining costly medical advice. The Tribunal had heard sufficient evidence from the Claimant about the effect on his health and was entitled to make the award it did.

Comment

This decision enables claimants to claim compensation for personal injury where they have not been provided with rest breaks. The decision suggests that the bar is relatively low - in this case, the Tribunal found that the breach caused the Claimant "some discomfort and stress". Employers may therefore see an increase in such claims.

Grange v. Abellio London Ltd, Employment Appeal Tribunal