The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT), in Grange v Abellio London, has ruled that an employee does not have to actually request a rest break before making a claim that they have been refused rest breaks.
In this case, Mr Grange was contractually entitled to a 30 minute break for lunch, however, his employer told him that he should work without this break and leave early instead. Mr Grange worked in this way for over 2 years without complaint. He subsequently raised a grievance and, when this was not upheld, brought a claim that he had been refused his rest breaks.
The EAT (overturning the tribunal’s decision), said that an employer has an obligation to afford the worker the entitlement to take a rest break and that the entitlement will be “refused” by the employer if it puts into place working arrangements that fail to allow the taking of rest breaks.
Obviously an employer cannot force its employees to take breaks, however, provided it takes active steps to ensure working arrangements enable the worker to take their breaks, it will have met the obligation upon it.