Do your employees have to take a break?

Many employees choose not to take a break in their working day, in fact ACAS research shows that less than a third of UK workers take an hour off for lunch.

We’ve all done it, and at the time we pride ourselves on being conscientious, and working through to get the job done, and really where’s the harm?
Well, as employers, there are few things to bear in mind.

There’s obviously a legal perspective which is covered below, but also there is much research showing that taking regular breaks can make people happier, more focussed and more productive, surely this is what we want from our employees?

But down to the legal stance on the matter:

• The Working Time Regulations stipulate that all employees who work for more than six hours in a day are entitled to a rest period of at least 20 minutes. Employees should be encouraged to move away from their work station for this period, and take a complete break from work.
• Different rules apply for young workers under the age of 18, who must take a break of at least 30 minutes if they work for more than 4.5 hours in a day.
• You are not required to pay your employees for this period of rest.
• You are also not required to “police” your employees to ensure they take the break, so you don’t need to be keeping a record of who takes a break and for how long, but your employment policies should make it very clear that your employees are expected to take a break.
And of course, being a good caring employer, and bearing in mind the research noted above on the benefits, why wouldn’t you actively encourage your employees to leave their desk or down their tools and take some time out. Even better, lead by example !