Shift work and breaks: ask the expert

I work from home, online, as a bingo chat room host. We work 6 days per week, on average 40 hours. We get 28 days holiday per year, but we don’t get bank holiday except Xmas Day/time in lieu. We often have shifts finishing at 3am, followed by a 10am shift the same day or even at 7am! Is this legal?

As a worker, you are covered by the Working Time Regulations. This sets out your entitlements to rest breaks and annual leave. In relation to annual leave, from April 2009 all workers are entitled to 5.6 weeks (including bank holidays). This equates to 28 days holiday for those working a five-day week. If you work six days a week, you should arguably be entitled to 33.6 days holiday a year. There is no actual entitlement to be paid extra if you work on a bank holiday.

In relation to rest breaks, all workers are entitled to a minimum 20 minute break, away from their workstation, if they work more than six consecutive hours. In addition, you are entitled to a daily rest break of 11 consecutive hours. There is a potential exclusion for shift workers, where there is a shift change and it is not possible for you to take an adequate rest period between the end of one shift and the start of the next. However, if this does occur (and from what you say it does), you are entitled to be given an equivalent period of compensatory rest as soon as possible.
All workers are also entitled to an uninterrupted weekly rest break of not less than 24 hours in each seven day period.
Therefore, taking all of the rest breaks into account, you should be entitled to 90 hours rest a week! It sounds as if from the information you have been given that you may be receiving less than this. Therefore, if this is the case, I suggest that you write a letter to your employer to complain about this and ask for a meeting to discuss the matter. If your employer does not take satisfactory action, you could bring a claim in the Employment Tribunal who can order a declaration and compensation. If this becomes necessary, I would advise you to take further legal advice.
This gives a general overview only, based on the information available at the time of writing. It cannot be relied upon in any particular case. Specific legal advice must always be considered to include consideration as to whether the legal position contained has changed since publication. For further information and advice, please contact Lemon&Co Solicitors on 01793 527141 or visit their website: www.lemon-co.co.uk.




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