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How Many Breaks am I Entitled to?

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 30 Nov 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Breaks Working Time Directive Law

Q.How many breaks should be given in a twelve hour shift and how long should the breaks be?

(P.F, 6 October 2008)

A.

Under the Working Time Directive which applies to most adult workers, including those who work part time, are employed by an agency or if you work as a freelancer, you are entitled to one rest break of 20 minutes if you are employed for more than six hours a day. Therefore, even on a 12 hour shift, you would still only be legally entitled to ONE rest break. For example, if you are given a lunch break of 20 minutes or more, that counts as your full entitlement for that day. The break must be given to you during your shift and not at the beginning or end of it.

Adult workers are entitled to an 11 hour rest period between each shift, although there are certain circumstance where this does not apply. Adult workers are also allowed one day off each week, however this can be averaged over two weeks.

Of course, in a similar fashion to companies who offer more than the minimum wage, most companies will give you more than one break on a 12 hour shift although they are not legally required to. To find out more about your entitlement, you should refer to your employment contract or staff handbook.

For young workers, under the age of 18, the rules are different. Young workers are entitled to a rest break of 30 minutes for every 4 and a half hours they work. There is also no legal requirement to pay you for your break nor for it to count towards the length of your working day. Young workers are also entitled to a 12 hour uninterrupted rest period between each shift as well as two days off each week - which cannot be averaged over two weeks.

Another exception when it comes to the Working Time Directive and rights to breaks is that of PSV and HGV drivers. Their rights to breaks come under the Road Transport (Working Time) Regulations and the Tachograph regulations and tend to be more generous and which need to take into account issues of fatigue. Other light goods vehicle drivers and the likes of minibus drivers are covered by the Working Time Directive but their entitlements are a little more vague referring to the fact that they must get ‘adequate rest’ in order that fatigue does not cause them to injure themselves or injure others or cause an accident.

For more information about shift work read our article on The Health Risks of Shift Work.

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Crazych1ck - Your Question:
I am a community care worker which involves a lot of strenuous moving and handling. I also drive between calls. I have recently started a new company and they have given me shifts of 9 hour shifts this doesn’t include time to get to each home I attend or from and back to home. There is no break at all in this 9 hours what should I be entitled to and how do I approach my boss about it

Our Response:
You would have to read the terms and conditions of your employment contract to see whether you are awarded a break and how the break is awarded. As specified in the article, Under the Working Time Directive which applies to most adult workers, including those who work part time, are employed by an agency or if you work as a freelancer, you are entitled to one rest break of 20 minutes if you are employed for more than six hours a day. If your employer is ignoring the break awarded to you by law, then you would have to take this up with your employer in the first instance. If your employer doesn't rectify the issue, then it is advisable to give ACAS a call in order to explore your options.
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 30-Nov-17 @ 3:10 PM
I am a community care worker which involves a lot of strenuous moving and handling. I also drive between calls. I have recently started a new company and they have given me shifts of 9 hour shifts this doesn’t include time to get to each home I attend or from and back to home. There is no break at all in this 9 hours what should I be entitled to and how do I approach my boss about it
Crazych1ck - 30-Nov-17 @ 8:50 AM
We work a 12 hour shift in a naval dockyard on nights, we drive 30 minutes to work and again to get home. We must arrive early as parking is appalling. We have been told we can have a 30 minute break at 0400-0430 We start at 1900 and finish at 0745 Surly we are entitled to another break earlier on in the shift
Shakira - 24-Nov-17 @ 10:19 AM
If a working day is (for example) 9-3:10 so 6 hours and ten min but includes a ten min break is that legal? the shift is technically more than 6 hours but the actual hours worked are bang on 6 due to the break?
corinne - 23-Nov-17 @ 10:25 AM
Hi i worked a 13 and half hour shift lastnight my first onedrivingwith out any breakswhen i asked do we have a tea break the reply was no is this legal ots a new job so dont really won't to be the first one to complain
Lanny - 21-Nov-17 @ 1:42 PM
The above statement is a lie, the law states that during a 6 hour work period you are entitled to 1 20 minute uninterrupted meal break away from your work station NOT TO BE TAKEN AT THE BEGINNING OR END OF SHIFT. That means during a 12 hour shift your entitled by LAW to 2 20 minute breaks and if you drive a truck 3 20 minute uninterrupted meal breaks. Might I add that the 20 minutes starts from the moment you sit down with your meal infront of you, not including getting to and from the brew room or waiting in cue to be served.
Davehug7900 - 19-Nov-17 @ 3:21 PM
DDTelford - Your Question:
Please help! I’ve been offered a job Monday to Friday doing a 6am to 6pm shift driving a shunt wagon around a factory unit. I’ve got a class 1 (not needed as private ground) but they are only offering a 30 minute unpaid break, is this legal ? Does it come under the driving law ? Seems harsh just half hour break in 12 hours

Our Response:
It is legal. If you work over 12 hours, then you will be eligible for another break.
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 13-Nov-17 @ 11:34 AM
Please help! I’ve been offered a job Monday to Friday doing a 6am to 6pm shift driving a shunt wagon around a factory unit. I’ve got a class 1 (not needed as private ground) but they are only offering a 30 minute unpaid break, is this legal ? Does it come under the driving law ? Seems harsh just half hour break in 12 hours
DDTelford - 12-Nov-17 @ 7:28 PM
Jula - Your Question:
I work in McDonald's, there is 45 min unpaid break, if I work 9h shift can manager send me on break after 2 hour I start? For example I'm on 8am-5pm shift, and manager ask me at 10am to go break.Is that fine I will work 6 hour without break?

Our Response:
Theoretically, you can work for up to six hours without a break. However, according to the European Working Time Directive, and as specified in the article, your break must be given to you somewhere in the middle of your shift and not at the beginning or end of it, please see link here. Therefore, you would need to speak to your line manager directly about this and request your break somewhere during the middle of your shift.
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 2-Nov-17 @ 12:31 PM
Rhi - Your Question:
Hi.I work at a restaurant which also does functions. I work 16/17 hours 7 days a week continuously, without a break. How long should my breaks be each day?

Our Response:
Your breaks should fit in with the break times as specified in this article ie, 20 minutes for every six hours that you work. It would also be advisable to read the terms and conditions of your employment contract, as this should tell you what your break-time allocation is. If you are working 16/17 hours you should be allocated 2 x 20 minute breaks. You are also entitled to an uninterrupted 24 hours without any work each week and an uninterrupted 48 hours without any work each fortnight, please see link here . You may wish to give ACAS a call to explore your rights fully as you should not be working this length of day across seven days per week without statutory rest.
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 2-Nov-17 @ 10:08 AM
Hi. I work at a restaurant which also does functions. I work 16/17 hours 7 days a week continuously, without a break. How long should my breaks be each day?
Rhi - 1-Nov-17 @ 6:55 PM
I work in McDonald's, there is 45 min unpaid break, if I work 9h shift can manager send me on break after 2 hour I start? For example I'm on 8am-5pm shift, and manager ask me at 10am to go break. Is that fine I will work 6 hour without break?
Jula - 1-Nov-17 @ 10:20 AM
Samantha Jayne Louis - Your Question:
I work 10 hours what are my legal right for a break

Our Response:
As specified in the article, you are entitled to one rest break of 20 minutes if you are employed for more than six hours. You would have to be employed for 12 hours or more to receive another 20 minute break.
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 31-Oct-17 @ 3:56 PM
Rosie - Your Question:
What breaks am I entitled to working 7 and half shift

Our Response:
As specified in the article, by law, you are entitled to one 20 minute break for every six hours you work. The terms of your employment contract should tell you more about the breaks you are allocated to by your employer.
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 31-Oct-17 @ 1:37 PM
I work 10 hours what are my legal right for a break
Samantha Jayne Louis - 31-Oct-17 @ 8:53 AM
What breaks am I entitled to working 7 and half shift
Rosie - 29-Oct-17 @ 10:11 PM
Jimmy - Your Question:
My girlfriend works for a shop that makes them work 4 -5 hours a day ? Are you entitled to any breaks

Our Response:
As specified in the article, all employees are entitled to one rest break of 20 minutes if they are employed for more than six hours a day. This means your daughter is not entitled to a break, if her employer does not wish to give her one. If you read the terms and conditionas of her contract, the answer should be contained within.
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 24-Oct-17 @ 12:59 PM
My girlfriend works for a shop that makes them work 4 -5 hours a day ? Are you entitled to any breaks
Jimmy - 21-Oct-17 @ 9:12 AM
KR - Your Question:
My wife work as a community career. and lately she is working 12 hrs with no break. in that 12 hrs she will drive to multiple clients and be with them for anything from 1 hrs to 3 hrs. and then drives to the next.So other than driving from client to client my wife does not get a break when she has these 12 hrs shifts.? is this legal

Our Response:
You would have to read the terms of your employment contract to see what it specifies regarding breaktimes (which you will be entitled to), as this will hold the answers to what you are due. If your employer is not factoring in your break time when it is specified in your contract, then you would have to speak to your employer directly.
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 3-Oct-17 @ 11:13 AM
My wife work as a community career. and lately she is working 12 hrs with no break. in that 12 hrs she will drive to multiple clients and be with them for anything from 1 hrs to 3 hrs. and then drives to the next. So other than driving from client to client my wife does not get a break when she has these 12 hrs shifts. ? is this legal
KR - 2-Oct-17 @ 3:13 PM
Mike - Your Question:
I worked 11 hours straight Sunday and today I'm working 8 hours straight. Both with no breaks, is that legal?

Our Response:
Have a read of the terms and conditions of your employment contract to see what it says regarding your breaks. If your contract differs to what your employer is giving you, then you would need to speak with your employer directly.
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 26-Sep-17 @ 10:40 AM
I worked 11 hours straight Sunday and today I'm working 8 hours straight. Both with no breaks, is that legal?
Mike - 25-Sep-17 @ 10:09 AM
MR T - Your Question:
What are my break entilments I work 8 hr day paid for 7 thank you

Our Response:
If you are on an eight hour days and work seven, if one hour is unpaid then this would be classed as an hour break. You should have a look at the terms and conditions of your contract.
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 14-Sep-17 @ 2:44 PM
what are my break entilments i work 8 hr day paid for 7 thank you
MR T - 14-Sep-17 @ 9:27 AM
Vanessa- Your Question:
I work part time and my hours used to be 8-2 weekdays. I have been forced to increase to 7:30-2:30 but told I don't get a break as the full shirt finishes at3 and therefore that counts as my break-is this legal?

Our Response:
If you work over six hours, you are allocated a break. If you work exactly six hours your employer does not have to factor in a break. If your previous 8-2 contract offered you a break, then the contract should still stand even through you have changed the times you work. Therefore, you may wish to check the terms of your contract to see what it says. If you are working from 7.30 and finish at 3pm, then you are by law allowed a twenty minute break, as you have worked over six hours.
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 11-Sep-17 @ 3:29 PM
I work part time and my hours used to be 8-2 weekdays. I have been forced to increase to 7:30-2:30 but told I don't get a break as the full shirt finishes at3 and therefore that counts as my break-is this legal?
Vanessa - 9-Sep-17 @ 2:26 PM
Judi - Your Question:
Hi. I am care assistant working with people in their own houses. I am working 9h night shift without break. Is it legal? Thank you

Our Response:
You would have to read the terms and conditions of your employment contract to find this out. By signing the contract, if you have agreed to not having a break by way of being allowed to sleep through a period of the night then this could constitute a break.
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 1-Sep-17 @ 10:41 AM
Hi. I am care assistant working with people in their own houses. I am working 9h night shift without break. Is it legal? Thank you
Judi - 31-Aug-17 @ 5:48 AM
I work as a HGV driver my shift starts on a Sunday and ends on a Thursday on Sunday I do roughly a 12 hour shift starting at 7 p.m. I finish my shift around 6:30 a.m. on monday morning and and get home about 7 a.m., i have to start work 4 p.m. on Monday my concern is I am not getting my 9 hour rest period, I have spoken to my manager about it and he does not seem to be concerned can you please tell me if the company is right to do this. Thanks fred
Freddie - 17-Aug-17 @ 1:21 PM
I am having to work 10 hours with a 20 min break .my supervisoris the only other worker on that shift.she said that if we get busy during my break I will need to go back to work and leave my break and have 10 mins more later. So my break will be split into 10 minutes depending on if she needs to cut short my break to return to work. I won't be resting properly.not only that it's disgraceful to be working long hours with only a 20 minute break for anyone in this day and age.so ce shift work and part time work is now far more prevent in the working pattern it is making workers more tired and worn out. We should be entitled to 1 hour break for lunch .and 10 minutes coffee break like it used to be. Instead of reducing staff in each shift to keep it favourable to employers. This country is a work house mayhem
Caroline - 16-Aug-17 @ 1:08 AM
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