Am I entitled to a break when the working day is more than six hours?

Adult workers covered by the Working Time Regulations are entitled to a rest break of at least 20 minutes from work during a working day of more than six hours. For young workers aged 16 and 17, the Regulations provide for an uninterrupted break of at least 30 minutes after working 4.5 hours.

The rest break must be taken during the working day. It cannot be tacked on to the start or the end of a shift.

Unfortunately, the protection afforded by the Regulations is minimal, and individuals working a 12-hour shift will still only be entitled to one 20-minute break under this legislation. Your contract may have terms in place that are more generous than the statutory arrangements.

Some workers, including seafarers, air cabin crew, drivers and mobile rail workers, are covered by different rules.

The basic statutory right is to an unpaid rest break. Some workers have a contractual right to a paid break.

In workplaces where a union is recognised, improvements on the statutory rest break, such as the right to be paid, are likely to have been negotiated through collective bargaining.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.

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