Bus company case leads to fresh debate over work breaks.
A recent case brought to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has highlighted how important it is for businesses to make sure they allow adequate time for rest breaks.
In Grange v Abellio London Ltd, it was held that firms could be in breach of the Working Time Regulations if they do not ensure that the working arrangements enable a worker to take a break from their duties (which has been enshrined in UK law for almost 20 years.)
What was noteworthy about this particular ruling was that it made clear that even those staff who have not explicitly requested a break can bring a claim if their employer has failed to ensure that working arrangements allowed for workers to take the rest break.
The case in question related to a man who worked at Abellio, a London bus company, and in his role as relief roadside controller was responsible for monitoring services in the capital.
Originally his working day lasted eight and a half hours, which included half an hour which had been designated as a lunch break.
After it proved difficult to fit this into the hectic schedule, four years ago the bus company decided that it would allow the controllers to finish half an hour early instead.
In 2014, one of the team submitted a grievance and subsequently launched a Tribunal claim on the grounds that he had been refused the break required by law for a period of almost two and a half years.
At the original hearing it was decided that since Abellio had never expressly denied the man a break, the claim should be thrown out.
Following this he appealed and the EAT interpreted the situation rather differently, arguing that failing to make adequate provision could amount to refusal. They made it clear that employers must be proactive in ensuring that working arrangements allowed workers to take these breaks.
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