Grange v Abellio London Ltd
The Working Time Regulations 1998 ("WTR") provide that if a worker's daily working time exceeds six hours he is entitled to a rest break. In this case, the EAT held that an employer has an obligation to allow workers to take a break, however if the workers choose not to take a break, the employer's obligations are satisfied.
The Claimant's working day lasted eight and a half hours and the intention was that he would take a half hour unpaid lunch break. In reality, it would have been very difficult for him to take this break due to the volume of work. In July 2012 the Company then informed their employees that they could work straight through the eight hours and go home half an hour earlier. The Claimant then submitted a grievance in July 2014 complaining that he had been forced to work without a break and it had negatively impacted his health. When the grievance was rejected he took his claim to the Employment Tribunal which again was dismissed and he finally appealed to the EAT.
The EAT allowed the appeal, stating that an employer "cannot withdraw into a passive role and grant rest periods only to those workers who ask for them."
The lesson from this decision is that employers must be proactive in ensuring that working arrangements allow for workers to take breaks. Clearly in reality, a large amount of workers do not take rest breaks due to the volume of work; however it is important for employers to consider what working arrangements are in place and whether workers are given the opportunity to take a break.