UK: Compensation For Failure To Provide Rest Breaks
When an employer denies a worker their right to a rest break under the WTRegs, a tribunal may award such compensation as it considers “just and equitable” in all the circumstances, having regard to:
- The employer’s default in refusing to permit the worker to exercise the right; and
- Any loss sustained by the worker which is attributable to the matters complained of.
Mr Grange was employed as a bus driver. He complained to the tribunal that his employer had denied him his rest breaks. He gave evidence that due to a medical condition involving his bowel, the lack of rest breaks caused discomfort that was more than a minor inconvenience. The tribunal awarded him £750. The employer appealed.
Before the EAT, the employer argued that compensation under the WTRegs did not cover personal injury and even if it did that £750 was excessive. The EAT disagreed and said that compensation for personal injury can be awarded to workers denied rest breaks. The Court of Appeal in Gomes v Higher Level Care Ltd  EWCA Civ 418 had said no more than that injury to feelings awards could not be made in such cases.
This case opens the door for personal injury compensation for breaches of the WTRegs, such as rest breaks. Workers with health conditions are more likely to suffer due to lack of proper work breaks. Make sure all staff (including workers such as consultants and zero hours workers) are receiving their proper work breaks to avoid risk of expensive claims.
Grange v Abellio London Ltd EAT/0304/17.