20 minutes means 20 minutes!

Take your breaks. Rest your weary feet. You deserve it. Your legal rights to breaks are outlined below - but your contract and handbook may specify additional entitlements. If you work your breaks you are giving your employer something for nothing.

But more that that you're putting your health at risk. When you are tired you are more likely to have an accident at work. When you are tired you are more susceptible to stress and that can lead to all sorts of stress related illnesses and long term sickness absence.

If you burn out and damage your health you won't get much sympathy from your employer. The most you would get as a medical severance package is 1 week's pay for each full year of service up to a mximum of 12. And the chances of anyone in hospitality being in a pension scheme which offers a decent ill health retirement package are slim to zero.

So don't risk it - take your breaks - if your employer tries to get round the law or their own policies challenge this through the union.

Rest breaks at work

Workers have the right to one uninterrupted 20 minute rest break during their working day (this could be a tea or lunch break), if they work more than 6 hours a day.

Daily rest

Workers have the right to 11 hours rest between working days, eg if they finish work at 8pm, they shouldn’t start work again until 7am the next day.

Weekly rest

Workers have the right to either:

  • an uninterrupted 24 hours without any work each week
  • an uninterrupted 48 hours without any work each fortnight

A worker’s employment contract may say they’re entitled to more or different rights to breaks from work.

Work that puts health and safety at risk

An employer should give an employee enough breaks to make sure their health and safety isn’t at risk.

Your employer has a duty of care to ensure your health, safety and welfare at work are given priority over operational requirements.