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Case law: Employers who refuse rest breaks may be liable for resulting personal injury

Employers should ensure workers are taking at least the minimum rest breaks required by law or risk being liable for any personal injuries suffered as a result, a recent ruling makes clear.

May 2019

This update was published in Legal Alert - May 2019

Legal Alert is a monthly checklist from Atom Content Marketing highlighting new and pending laws, regulations, codes of practice and rulings that could have an impact on your business.

An employee of a bus company worked an 8-hour a day and was entitled to a 30-minute unpaid lunch break. Under the Working Times Regulations, workers are usually entitled to an unpaid rest break of 20 minutes if they work for more than six hours in a day, so on the face of it, his employer was complying with the law. However, the nature of his work meant he found it difficult to take his lunch break. He started a grievance that he had been forced to work without a break, which had contributed to health problems, and he eventually took his claim to the Employment Tribunal (ET).

Among other things, he claimed compensation for personal injury saying that the lack of breaks had affected his bowel condition and caused discomfort that was more than a minor inconvenience.

The Court of Appeal recently ruled that workers cannot claim compensation for injury to feelings but, in this case, the Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld the ET’s ruling that he should be entitled to £750 compensation for personal injury suffered as a result of not having rest breaks.

His injury was not significant so the compensation payable was low. However, some physical or mental injuries can be very serious, which could mean much higher awards in future cases brought in similar circumstances.

Operative date

  • Now


  • Employers should ensure workers are entitled to (and taking) their full rest breaks or risk being liable to compensate them for any personal injuries they suffer as a result.

Case ref: Mr L Grange v Abellio London Ltd: UKEAT/0304/17/JOJ

Disclaimer: This article from Atom Content Marketing is for general guidance only, for businesses in the United Kingdom governed by the laws of England. Atom Content Marketing, expert contributors and ICAEW (as distributor) disclaim all liability for any errors or omissions.

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