Working Time Regulations Guide

Rest Breaks at Work

Employers must check:

  • How workers’ working time is arranged and whether they are able to take the rest breaks they are entitled to.
  • Whether any exceptions or flexibilities apply.
  • The different rest break periods young workers are entitled to.

If a worker is required to work for more than six hours at a stretch, he or she is entitled to a rest break of 20 minutes.

The break should be taken during the six-hour period and not at the beginning or end of it. The exact time the breaks are taken is up to the employer to decide.

Employers must make sure that workers can take their rest, but are not required to make sure they do take their rest.

Mobile workers are excluded from the usual rest break entitlements under the Working Time Regulations. Instead, these workers are entitled to ‘adequate rest’.

‘Adequate rest’ means that workers have regular rest periods. These should be sufficiently long and continuous to ensure that fatigue or other irregular working patterns do not cause workers to injure themselves, fellow workers or others, and that they do not damage their health, either in the short term or in the longer term.

For information on when the limits may not apply click here

Special rules for Young Workers

Different rules apply to young workers. If a young worker is required to work for more than four and a half hours at a stretch, he or she is entitled to a rest break of 30 minutes.

If a young worker is working for more than one employer, the time he or she is working for each one should be added together to see if they are entitled to a rest break.

A young worker’s entitlement to breaks can be reduced or excluded in exceptional circumstances only. Where this occurs, the young worker should receive compensatory rest within 3 weeks.

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