Workers over 18 are usually entitled to 3 types of break – rest breaks at work, daily rest
and weekly rest.
Rest breaks at work
Workers have the right to one uninterrupted 20 minute rest break during their working day, if they work more than 6 hours a day. This could be a tea or lunch break.
The break doesn’t have to be paid – it depends on their employment contract.
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.
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.
Exceptions to this are
- the armed forces, emergency services or police and they’re dealing with an exceptional catastrophe or disaster
- a job where they freely choose what hours they work (like a managing director) or where the work is not measured (ie no set hours)
- sea transport
- air or road transport (known as ‘mobile’ workers)
Air, sea or road transport workers may be covered by special rules that give them different rest rights.
Mobile workers not covered by any special rules usually have the right to regular rest so that their health and safety (or anyone else’s) isn’t put at risk.
There are also special rules for young workers and for lorry and coach drivers.