What are entitlements to breaks at work?

With job-related stress on the rise, encouraging employees to take a breather could be beneficial on many levels. Taking a break – even a short one –helps productivity and creativity.

Under the Working Time Regulations 1998 an employee is entitled to 20 minutes’ rest break after working for more than six hours.
Employers should ensure that each of their workers has an opportunity to take a rest break whenever a right to one arises and actively create arrangements, and an atmosphere, to enable this. Where necessary – for example, where someone needs to be continually present, breaks, along with adequate cover, may have to be scheduled.

Employers cannot force employees to take rest break but if employees regularly ‘decide’ not to take one, it may be worth looking more closely at working arrangements. In the current climate, where allegations about the poor treatment of workers often hit the headlines, reviewing break arrangements (before someone else does) makes sense. Plus, there is empirical evidence to suggest that giving workers a break could actually increase their output.

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