The amount of break time (for lunch, tea etc.) you get is usually agreed with your employer. It may be written down somewhere e.g. employment contract, policies or might just be part of your employer's standard practice.
The law sets requirements on rest breaks in two ways:
- there are minimum rest breaks set down in the Working Time Regulations.
- under health and safety legislation
Some people are not covered by the Working Time Regulations - mainly those working in the transport industry (see below for more).
Your employer must give you at least the rest breaks required by the Working Time Regulations but must also ensure that your health and safety is not put at risk. This means that your employer might have to give you more than the amount set out in the regulations, if this reduces a health and safety risk.
If you use a computer
If you use display screen equipment - computers, for example - your employer should plan your work so that you can take regular breaks from looking at the screen e.g. break of 10 mins after every hour on the computer.
Working time regulations
Minimum breaks are set out in the Working Time Regulations. These regulations apply to most workers but there are some exceptions (which are explained below).
The regulations also give you rights to paid holiday, limits on your working week, and limits on night work.
Rest breaks - a break during your working day
If you're an adult worker (that is, over 18), you'll normally have the right to a 20 minute rest break if you're expected to work for more than six hours at a stretch.
A lunch or coffee break can count as your rest break. Additional breaks might be given by your contract of employment. The requirements are:
- the break must be in one block
- it can't be taken off one end of the working day - it must be somewhere in the middle
- you're allowed to spend it away from the place on your employer's premises where you work
- your employer can say when the break must be taken, as long as it meets these conditions
Hope this helps.